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Despite police warning, illegal fireworks reported

KAILUA-KONA — Aerial fireworks lit up West Hawaii’s sky as residents welcomed the new year on Monday, despite warnings to avoid handling illegal pyrotechnics.

No serious incidents connected to fireworks were reported in West Hawaii, according to Hawaii Police. However, a 40-year-old man lost a finger after an aerial firework exploded in his hand Sunday outside a home in Hilo.

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In West Hawaii, police received 25 fireworks calls for service from Dec. 26 to Monday — 19 of which occurred between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Hawaii Police Department Maj. Robert Wagner didn’t know how many citations were issued to people lighting illegal aerials. However, he said he imagined there weren’t many.

Gwyneth Wrixon, of Waikoloa, placed one of those calls for service regarding fireworks. On New Year’s Eve, she said the aerial fireworks were going off all around her neighborhood.

Wrixon, a pet owner, said she was prepared for New Year’s Eve to be filled with sounds of pops and small explosions.

“You don’t prepare for fireworks for a half an hour the next day,” she said.

Later on New Year’s Day, Wrixon said, one of her neighbors started a large fire and set off fireworks from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m.

“I’m not anti-fireworks,” she said. “I’m anti-fireworks that hurt your neighbor’s animals.”

Wrixon did call police. An officer eventually showed up at about 8 p.m.

“I think we don’t have a handle on this,” she said. “Our police force isn’t equipped to deal with this.”

Wrixon said her neighbor was not cited even after her complaint.

“I just think we need to put an end to all of it because the few who do it have ruined it for everybody,” she said. “To me, it’s disrespecting your neighbors.”

On New Year’s Eve until about 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day, Wagner said, it’s “absolutely crazy” as far as police calls for service.

“As you have seen, aerial fireworks I would say is out of control,” Wagner said. “When you look at how much there are, you wonder exactly how can it be stopped, as you surely cannot stop it on New Year’s Eve when they start going off all over the place.”

Unrelated to fireworks, Wagner said, an unpermitted structure in Waimea burned down just past midnight on New Year’s Day.

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The single-story wood structure was unoccupied at the time, according to the Hawaii Fire Department. Two 100-gallon propane tanks were venting propane gas when crews arrived on scene.

Fire officials said the tanks cooled with hose stream prior to the flames being extinguished.

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