Man severely burned by hot charcoal in sand at West Oahu beach warns of dangers

He took a step and felt something hot on his feet. The injuries quickly turned to burns and blisters.
Published: May. 2, 2023 at 4:15 PM HST|Updated: May. 2, 2023 at 4:51 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A man who was severely burned by hot charcoal buried in the sand is speaking out about the dangers, hoping others avoid a similar fate.

Mark Vidinha, of Waipahu, says he was using his metal detector and walking barefoot along the beach at Kalanianaole Beach Park in Nanakuli last month.

He took a step and felt something hot on his feet. The injuries quickly turned to burns and blisters.

“I started to feel extreme heat from the sand so I shuffled over a few inches and it got worse and when I looked down that’s when I saw a little puff of charcoal smoke come out of the ground,” said Vidinha.

“I knew I was in trouble,” he added.

After a few days, he went to the hospital.

A self-described “tough guy,” he says on a scale of one to 10, the pain was a 10 and he never wants to get burned again.

Vidinha still can’t work and tried to hold back his emotions.

“I couldn’t walk for two weeks,” he said.

In 2019, a Big Island toddler suffered severe burns on her hands and feet when she stepped on hot charcoal that had been dumped by a stranger in Kawaihae.

In 2013, a 5-year-old boy suffered burns on his hands from a charcoal pit at Ala Moana Beach Park.

Nate Serota, spokesman for the City Department of Parks and Recreation, showed Hawaii News Now several spots where people have carelessly dumped their charcoal at Ala Moana Beach Park, burning holes in trees with charcoal disposal pits just steps away.

“This is definitely an example of something we don’t want to see. People just dumping their charcoal especially at the base of a tree or in the sand,” said Serota.

“Someone being egregious and not really putting in a little extra effort. You have charcoal dumped 5, 6 feet from a charcoal dumping pit,” he added.

Serota says always throw away burned charcoal in a disposal pit, but if that’s not available, he’s got an alternative.

He says completely douse the charcoal in water, stir it up and then douse it again. Then throw it away in a trash can.

“As much as we hate to see people dumping charcoal in trash cans, we’d much rather have it in a trash bin than the beach or next to a tree or really any place that people can get hurt,” said Serota.