Computer glitch delays, ends Hilo fireworks with a dud


A computer glitch caused a 40-plus minute delay in Friday night’s July 4 fireworks show on Hilo Bayfront, and also was responsible for a failed firing of the planned finale, according to the show’s pyrotechnician.

“All of our equipment is fairly brand new. We’ve got a top-of-the-line firing system. Basically, there was a fail in there. … Unfortunately, computers crash. This time, they crashed on us,” Donald Pascual of Hawaii Explosives and Pyrotechnics said Sunday.

The computers were aboard the explosives barge and its tugboat in the middle of Hilo Bay, Pascual said. The show was set to start at 8 p.m., but the first legal fireworks didn’t explode in the night sky until about 8:47 p.m. The show lasted between six and eight minutes and there was no apparent finale.

In a June 22 Tribune-Herald story, Pascual said the show would be “10 minutes of spectacular pyrotechnics.”

“Here’s what I’m telling everyone: ‘If you’ve seen the show, wait ’til you see the finale,’” Pascual said. “… What that means is, we just don’t walk away and say, ‘This is what you get, Hilo. Thanks. See you next year.’ No, no. We’re not gonna do that.

“… We’re gonna come back and before the end of summer, probably, we’re gonna do a big bash and we’re going to give Hilo what they missed out on.”

Pascual said an announcement of the make-up show’s date is forthcoming.

“All my other shows I did throughout the state all came out real good. Everybody went home safe, all our equipment was put away and it was all good,” he said. “We go around and do shows around Hawaii (and) throughout the South Pacific. We’ve been doing that more than 30 years, and never had something like this, you know.

“It was unfortunate. Things happen.”

The Hilo show cost about $33,000, with $17,000 contributed by the Hawaii Fire Department from individual fireworks permit revenue, another $10,000 coming from the contingency fund of county Council Chairman J Yoshimoto, with Hilo Jaycees paying the remaining $6,000.

East Hawaii Fire Battalion Chief Warren Sumida said Sunday there were no reports of injuries or damage caused by Friday’s fireworks show. He deferred a question about reports of injuries or damage due to civilian home use of firecrackers and fireworks to the Fire Prevention Bureau, which is closed on the weekend.

Pascual said no one was injured during Friday night’s show “and that’s the biggest thing.”

“On that day I have about 70 or 80 people working for me. And on the Fourth of July, there was two deaths and multiple injuries (nationally) relating to Fourth of July fireworks shows. Safety is number one on our priority list. All of our people went home to their families and that, in itself, is a success. That’s the most important thing.

“People went home disappointed and they didn’t get what they deserved and that one’s on me, but we’re gonna make it up to them.

“I’ve lived in Hilo all of my life and you know what we’re going to do? We’re gonna prevail.”

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