Bad neighbors come in all varieties. Unfortunately for Isaías Rodríguez, his neighbor is one of the worst kinds: reckless, stupid, violent and wont to keeping large casks of gunpowder laying around the house.
Now that neighbor, José Amílcar López, is under investigation by Honduran Police after a clandestine fireworks factory he was running out of his house in Choloma, a factory city in northern Honduras, exploded in a massive fireball last Saturday, killing three of his family members and injuring 10 neighbors. The explosion—150 pounds of gunpowder detonating with the force of a bomb—leveled six homes, including that of Mr. Rodríguez, who told the local media that he had been complaining about his neighbor's fireworks shop for three years.
(This video shows what an explosion of 1-pound of gunpowder looks like. The fireworks factory explosion in Honduras was 150 times stronger, according to initial reports.)
"Ever since [he started making fireworks] we stopped sleeping and living peacefully, thinking that something was going to happen to cause an explosion of all that gunpowder," a teary-eyed Rodríguez told Honduran daily La Tribuna, as he surveyed the ruins of his cinderblock home.
Rodríguez told reporters he tried on several occasions to talk to his neighbor and implored him to stop making and testing fireworks, because the constant explosions and acrid clouds of sulfur had the whole neighborhood on edge. But Rodríguez says his hot-headed neighbor responded aggressively to his complaints, and threatened to shoot fireworks into his house at night if he didn't shut up.
Rodríguez says he then went to the police but was told he needed four witnesses to file a formal complaint. Everyone else in the neighborhood was too scared to step forward.
"This never would have happened if the neighbors had just come together to denounce this guy," he told La Tribuna.
Instead, Rodríguez and the other displaced survivors of last weekend's blast have had to move in with relatives as their injured family members recover in the hospital in nearby San Pedro Sula.
Police say they're waiting for the final report from firefighters to conclude their investigation.
Throughout Central America, hundreds of people are burned, maimed or killed each year by fireworks, many of which are homemade in dubious conditions. Christmas and New Year's celebrations always lead to a spike in fireworks injuries throughout the region.