'Startling': Bone cancer strikes 3 kids whose fathers work at the same fire house

'Startling': Bone cancer strikes 3 kids whose fathers work at the same fire house
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - At fire house 12 in Waipahu, firefighters aren't just worried about their own health. They're worrying about their kids.

In the last five years, children of three firefighters at the station have been diagnosed with bone cancer.

The third case was diagnosed this month.

In the wake of the cancer cluster, Honolulu's fire chief and the firefighters union are calling for an investigation.

"It's startling," said Capt. Andrew Fukuda, who's assigned to the Waipahu fire house.

"This is not really a coincidence. When it happens three times at the same station to our firefighters' children, everybody's concerned. Everybody's concerned about it."

The first diagnosis came in June 2013. Sky Racoma, 4, was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer. She is now in remission.

The second was on June 2014. Kala Peter, 10, was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, another type of bone cancer.

Kala died last June.

And just weeks ago, 11-year old Ally Tamayose was also diagnosed with Osteosarcoma. She is undergoing chemotherapy now.

HFD Capt. Aaron Lenchanko, who's also assigned to the Waipahu station, said the diagnoses are spurring some to consider transferring elsewhere.

"They're tremendously concerned," he said.

Meanwhile, on Monday, the Hawaii Firefighters Association sent a letter to state and county health officials, calling for an immediate investigation.

"Is the station really the common area that is what's causing this problem or are there other links that these three children have," said Bobby Lee, president of the firefighters union. "Waipahu is a fire station within an industrial area and we don't even know what comes and goes in that industrial area."

In a statement late Monday afternoon, the Honolulu Fire Department said it is now looking into the cancer cluster.

"Through a request by the Department of Health, the University of Hawaii Cancer Center is looking at any links between firefighter duties and family members who contract cancer," the statement said.

"The health and well-being of firefighters and their families are of the utmost importance to the HFD. These families are in our thoughts and have the support of our entire department."

Fukuda, the Waipahu captain, said even if investigators can't find a definitive link, it's important to "rule out certain things, certain factors."

He said would "calm a lot of our firefighters."

Nationally, firefighters have higher rates of cancer, most likely due to exposure to hazardous materials.

But little is known about whether the children of firefighters also have higher cancer risks.

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