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County issues fireworks rules, closes Waipi‘o Valley for July 4

  • Tribune-Herald file photo Fire Chief Kazuo Todd said in a statement consumer fireworks will be available for purchase at various retailers islandwide starting Tuesday, with sales ending at 8 p.m. July 4.

With the long July 4 weekend upcoming, county officials are stressing a safe celebration of the Independence Day holiday.

Fire Chief Kazuo Todd said in a statement consumer fireworks will be available for purchase at various retailers islandwide starting Tuesday, with sales ending at 8 p.m. July 4.

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Paper firecrackers will not be available for purchase this year, according to Todd. Firecrackers require permits for purchase and use.

Todd said Big Island residents who already possess paper firecrackers and would like to set them off during the approved hours of 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. on July 4 only can buy a permit by calling the Fire Prevention Bureau at 932-2911 to make an appointment.

That’s also the number to call for more information about purchasing, using and disposing fireworks. Those who want to discard unwanted or damaged fireworks are advised to call that number and to not drop off fireworks at local fire stations.

Permits aren’t required for the purchase or use of novelties and other fireworks.

According to the county, there will be fireworks displays the evening of July 4 starting at 8 p.m. in Hilo and Kona. In Hilo, the Hawaii County Band will play a concert starting at 7 p.m. with live musical accompaniment to the fireworks.

The county will close off a portion of Bayfront Highway between 6-10 p.m.

Lihiwai Street, from Keliipio Lane to the entrance of Isles’ parking lot, will be closed to vehicular traffic from 2 a.m. July 4 through 10 a.m. July 5 for the Hilo fireworks event, and Old Kona Airport runway will be closed all day July 4 and reopen on July 5.

Monday, July 5, will be the observed legal holiday, with federal, state and county offices closed.

The county is also closing Waipio Valley Access Road to non-Waipio residents over the long weekend. According to county officials, residents requested the closure, citing traffic and health concerns as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Guards will be positioned at the top of the road throughout the weekend to ensure compliance.

“Closing the valley access road to nonresidents will help us ensure the health and safety of the Waipio Valley community as we head into the long weekend,” Mayor Mitch Roth said. “We have to remember that we are at the final stretch of this pandemic, and we cannot afford to trip at the finish line. By avoiding large gatherings this Fourth of July, we can ensure that we will be able to have much larger gatherings next Fourth of July.

“Getting our families and friends back together is a top priority, but we have to do it safely.”

It’s illegal to buy, sell, possess or set off any aerial luminary device such as sky lanterns and Hawaii Lanterns. Any person in possession of any aerial luminary device who would like to dispose of it with amnesty can also call the Fire Prevention Bureau.

The Hawaii Police Department said in a statement they’re concerned about illegal aerial fireworks, and are asking for the public to report the location of illegal pyrotechnic devices, as well as the identity of people in possession of them.

It is unlawful for any person without a valid permit to set off aerial fireworks — which is reserved for professional pyrotechnicians only and isn’t the same as a fireworks permit. People who violate this law could be found guilty of a misdemeanor or Class C felony, police said.

The parents or guardians of minors illegally using fireworks also can be found in violation of the law, police said. Minors are allowed to use legal fireworks during the legal hours with adult supervision.

Anyone with information about the location of illegal fireworks is asked to call the police non-emergency line at 935-3311, or 911 if it is an emergency situation.

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It’s also illegal to: remove the powder or pyrotechnic contents from any fireworks; throw fireworks from a vehicle; set off fireworks at any time not within the legal period; set off fireworks within 1,000 feet of any operating hospital, nursing home, home for the elderly, or animal hospital; in or on any school building or property; on any highway, alley, street, sidewalk, or other public way, in any park, or within 1,000 feet of a church during services; sell or give any fireworks to minors, and for any minor to possess, sell, set off, ignite, or otherwise cause to explode any firework, except under the immediate supervision of an adult.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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