Dumped coals pose fire, safety hazard at city parks, beaches

Local News

The city is reminding people about the dangers of dumping hot coals in parks or at beaches.

A tree went up in flames at Kokololio Beach Park on Saturday.

Firefighters said it’s because someone dumped charcoal at the base of the tree.

The city told KHON2 it’s a problem that happens more often that you might think.

Charcoal briquettes may appear to be extinguished, but that’s not always the case, so the city is pleading with people to dump their coals in designated areas.

We’re told city Department of Parks and Recreation workers find coals near trees and rocks just about everyday.

“This has been happening more and more at our beach parks, especially here at Ala Moana,” said parks deputy director Jeanne Ishikawa.

We saw at least three trees at Ala Moana with fire damage and coals nearby. Some trees still had grill grates next to them.

Once the smoke cleared at Kokololio Beach Park, the tree that caught fire over the weekend was considered unsafe and had to be removed.

The city said hot coals pose a safety issue, especially if buried at the beach.

The Honolulu Fire Department says the sand insulates the heat of the embers and can keep them hot for hours.

“Those live embers also could be a burn hazard to anybody going near them,” said Capt. David Jenkins. “People have actually stepped on live embers and live coals and suffered burns to their feet.”

Not only is it dangerous, it’s also illegal. Officials say hot coals should not be dumped in trash cans, near trees, or on the beach.

Instead, you should dump them in the designated charcoal pits that are scattered around parks.

“Stir the coals up and then pour some more water on top, and then stir it again and then check the heat with the back of their hand to make sure the fire is fully extinguished before they properly dispose of their coals,” Jenkins said.

The city encourages using propane-powered grills since the fire can be more easily controlled.

If you’re caught illegally dumping coals, you could be fined up to $500 and possibly jail time.

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