As fireworks for New Year's celebrations go on sale Wednesday, the Maui County Fire Department is asking residents to be cautious while setting off the novelties and firecrackers because there is a potential for wildfires with ongoing drought conditions.
"Because this past year has been very dry, the threat of wildfires is a major concern," said Capt. Paul Haake of the Maui Fire Prevention Bureau. "When using fireworks, please follow the safety tips provided, use common sense, be sure all children are supervised and watch out for each other.
"Hopefully, we can all have a safe and enjoyable New Year's celebration and continue to celebrate every new year with fireworks."
By law, fireworks and firecrackers can be set off legally only from 9 p.m. New Year's Eve to 1 a.m. New Year's Day. Setting off fireworks at other times is illegal, and violators may be subject to fines up to $2,000.
On sale Wednesday at various stores will be novelty items such as sparkers and fountains that do not need a permit.
Firecrackers will be available for sale at various locations. A permit is required to purchase them.
New Year's Eve Public Fireworks Displays
* Hana, below Fagan's Cross
* Wailea, fireworks set off from a barge offshore fronting the Grand Wailea
* Lanai, Four Seasons Resort at Manele Bay
All displays at midnight.
A single $25 permit allows a person to buy up to 5,000 firecrackers.
This year, Maui County can sell an estimated 642 permits. The permit numbers correspond to the number of firecrackers being brought to the island for sale. On Maui, 472 permits are available; on Molokai, 77; and on Lanai, 93.
Last year's permit limit was 660. But only 333 permits were issued, fire officials said.
The permits are on sale at the following locations and times:
* Fire Prevention Bureau, 313 Manea Place, which is off of Waiko Road in Waikapu; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and on Dec. 29 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
* County Parks Permit Office, Lahaina Civic Center; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.
* County Parks Permit Office, Molokai; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, closed from 1 to 2:30 p.m. (office will be open only from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday and on Dec. 31).
County offices are closed on Tuesday for the Christmas holiday.
* Pine Isle Market, Lanai; (permits sold beginning Wednesday) 8 a.m. to noon and 1:30 to 7 p.m., Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Permit applicants must be 18 years or older and show proof of age. There is no limit to the number of permits one can buy. Check or money orders payable to the County of Maui will be accepted at most places. Cash for the permits will be accepted at the Fire Prevention Bureau and Pine Isle Market.
County officials on Molokai said the office will accept cash, cashier's check or money order only; no personal checks.
Those selling permit-required firecrackers are: Foodland stores, Sack N Save, all Times Supermarkets, Napili Market, Golden Dragon tent at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center, Pine Isle Market on Lanai and Misaki's Inc. and Take's Variety Store on Molokai.
Fire officials warn that aerial fireworks are illegal and dangerous. Importing and selling aerial fireworks without a permit is a Class C felony, which carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Fire officials warn it is also unlawful to:
* Remove or extract pyrotechnic contents.
* Throw any ignited fireworks from a moving vehicle.
* Set off fireworks within 1,000 feet of health care facilities and facilities for animals.
* Set off fireworks by schools, public roads, in county parks, at county facilities, in cane fields or at places of worship.
* Set off, without a permit, fireworks within 500 feet of a hotel.
* Give or sell any fireworks to minors or for minors to possess, purchase or ignite fireworks; although parents or guardians may allow the minor to use fireworks under their supervision.
People should use a clear and flat area to ignite fireworks, fire officials said. The area should be away from structures, dry grass or brush. Also, people should have a hose or bucket of water available in case of a fire.
For more information on fireworks permits, contact the Maui Fire Prevention Bureau at 244-9161 or see www.co.maui.hi.us and review the fireworks rules at the Department of Fire and Public Safety or Fire Prevention Bureau Web pages.