New Year's celebrations spark fires, thick smoke - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

New Year's celebrations spark fires, thick smoke

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

OAHU/BIG ISLAND (KHNL) - On the Big Island, an early morning fire destroyed a Hilo home.

A picture sent to KHNL just minutes after the fire started shows intense flames.

Hawaii County Fire says the fire broke out at 2:00 a.m. and was under control by 2:35 in the morning.

No one was hurt in the fire which was just off Halaulani place. The home was totally engulfed in flames.

Officials do not yet know the cause of the fire.

On Oahu, there were a couple of small wildfires in Waianae and Hawaii Kai, both were brought under control within 15 minutes.

Other than that, firefighters rang in the new year with only minor flare-ups.

In fact, preliminary numbers show 2008 marks a continuing downward trend in New Year's fires.

Figures from the Honolulu Fire Department show fewer fires in 2008, and of those fires, fewer of them appear to be related to fireworks.

"It might be due to the weather, it might be partly due to just people's caution because there were a lot of safety messages given and a lot of attention called to obvious use of fireworks," said Honolulu Fire Captain Terry Seelig.

Clouds and rain may have dampened fireworks celebrations, but they still made for a smoky night.

Smoke was as thick as fog in some parts of Oahu, as shown in this picture of Kalihi sent to our See It Snap It Send It link.

"The smoke was real bad. You hardly could see cars going up and down, you could hardly see their lights," said Kalihi resident Nadine Leong.

That left those with asthma, like Leong's baby boy Nathanial, vulnerable.

"He was in the house and everything was closed up and I had the fans on," Leong said.

At The Queen's Medical Center, there were only a handful of fireworks-related injuries reported.

"We did have a few burns from careless handling of fuses, things like that," said Dr. Daniel Smith, Chief of Emergency Medical Services at The Queen's Medical Center.

Emergency Medical Services says it transported three people to the hospital with burns from fireworks.

All are in stable condition.

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