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Las Vegas police hope crackdown on illegal fireworks bears fruit

Updated July 4, 2019 - 8:23 pm

Las Vegas police expressed hope early Thursday evening that an increase in fines for illegal fireworks would discourage people from setting off dangerous explosives during Fourth of July celebrations.

For the first time, illegal fireworks are considered a civil citation as well as a misdemeanor crime in Clark County, meaning Metropolitan Police Department officers will issue a fine to anyone caught with unsafe fireworks, Metro Capt. Jamie Prosser said at a news briefing. In the past, the criminal citations and possible fines were handled by the court system.

As of about 6 p.m. Thursday, the county’s website for reporting illegal fireworks had logged about 3,700 reports, compared to 20,000 reports for all the entire Fourth of July night last year, Prosser said.

“Our fingers are crossed that we’re making some good efforts, and things are slowing down in the valley,” she said

The first two citations someone receives for illegal fireworks will cost $250 and $500, respectively. The cost will continue to climb with more citations, Prosser said.

“Traditionally, July 4th is our busiest night for both Metro and for all fire,” she said.

Prosser spoke about the citations after addressing a group of Metro officers, Clark County Fire Department officials and Las Vegas Fire Department officials at Metro’s headquarters. It was the second straight year the task force was assembled to patrol the valley and confiscate illegal pyrotechnics.

“Keep your head on a swivel tonight,” Clark County Fire Chief Greg Cassell told the group.

With more than 2 million people in the Las Vegas Valley and a limited number of first responders, officials were expecting to have a busy night with injuries and fires, Prosser said after the briefing.

She advised people to use ISpyFireworks.com to report illegal fireworks instead of calling 911. If necessary, people can also call 311, a non-emergency number, or 911 if there’s an injury, fire or medical emergency.

Prosser also voiced concern for people in the valley who are sensitive to fireworks.

“We have a valley full of people: military vets with PTSD, members that have PTSD from 1 Oct. events,” Prosser said, referring to the mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip. “We need to keep that into consideration as we move forward into this evening.”

Martin Casillas, a Clark County fire inspector, said even if people are using “Safe and Sane” legal fireworks, they still need to be careful.

“Even though it’s a safe and sane product, if you don’t use it correctly it can still cause yourself some serious body damage,” he said.

He advised people to always have a water hose and bucket nearby if using legal fireworks. If a firework does not ignite properly, don’t touch it and douse it with water, he said.

Children are not allowed to use legal fireworks, and it will be illegal to light even “safe and sane” fireworks after midnight Thursday.

Law enforcement has been out enforcing firework laws before the holiday started, with Nevada Highway Patrol troopers making 67 vehicle stops Wednesday on state Route 160, according to a press release. The troopers were searching for illegal fireworks that people were transporting into Clark County.

More than a dozen drivers were issued misdemeanor citations Wednesday for possessing dangerous fireworks within Clark County, the highway patrol said.

Troopers seized about $5,000 worth of fireworks, which were turned over to the Clark County Fire Department to be destroyed.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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