The Honolulu Star Advertiser reports that there was a terrible fireworks explosion in a storage tunnel in Waikele gulch that killed five workers of Donaldson Enterprises, Inc.
The Waikele gulch was used by the military as a munitions storage facility for many years until the 1980s. Peace activists staked out the facility to document the comings and goings of transport vehicles and identified the site as a nuclear weapons storage facility. The unwanted attention on a nuclear facility so near to the residential areas of Waipahu probably contributed to the closure of the site. The munitions, including the nuclear weapons were eventually moved to the West Loch facility.
After years of neglect, the Navy transferred the Waikele gulch to a private developer who built homes on some of the land on the ridge and turned the munitions storage tunnels into commercial storage facilities. How the Navy was able to engage in real estate deals in Hawaiʻi is another story. Read more about Waikele here. Hereʻs a link to another giveaway of public lands to private entities.
It was in one of these storage tunnels that Donaldson Enterprises stored confiscated illegal fireworks before disposing of them. The folks at Donaldson were always very helpful in giving advice to the activists who were pushing for the military to clean up its mess in Makua, Waiʻanae and elsewhere. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the workers who lost their lives.