2 dead, 2 feared dead in Hawaii fireworks blast

AP News
Posted: Apr 09, 2011 6:14 AM
2 dead, 2 feared dead in Hawaii fireworks blast

Rescuers waited for a charred fireworks storage bunker to cool down Saturday so they could reach two men who are feared dead in an explosion that killed two other workers.

Two more workers were injured in the blast Friday, which scorched trees and bushes 40 feet away, authorities said. Explosions continued hours after the initial one, preventing firefighters from entering the former military bunker in a Honolulu suburb to find the two missing men.

"The risk is too great to the rescuers," Honolulu Fire Capt. Terry Seelig said. "It's too unstable to enter the bunker tunnel."

Police sent robots into the bunker to get a view from inside, and they helped rescuers determine the bunker was still too hot to enter Friday night, Seelig said. Rescue crews were to return Saturday morning.

"There isn't anything we can do but let it cool off," he said.

The blast was reported at the Waikele Business Center on Oahu at about 9 a.m. One of the injured men was critically burned, and another suffered minor injuries, Seelig said.

The missing men were last seen inside the bunker before the explosion. "That indicates they did not survive the blast," Seelig said.

All the men were employees of Donaldson Enterprises, an environmental services and unexploded ordnance disposal company, said Peter Savio, who handles the leases for the facility. The company couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

The storage facility was authorized by the fire department to hold fireworks.

Seelig said there was no danger to the surrounding residential neighborhood.

The bunker is about 1 1/2 to 2 miles from the business center's entrance. Karen Pacleb, whose backyard faces the entrance, said she didn't hear an explosion but smelled the smoke.

Students and staff at the nearby Waikele Elementary said they didn't hear any explosions.