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Las Vegas house fire Sunday blamed on neighbors, illegal fireworks

Updated July 3, 2017 - 6:42 pm

Neighbors setting off illegal fireworks in a central Las Vegas community likely are responsible for a blaze that displaced a family of four from their home Sunday night, officials said.

The family was not participating in the nearby fireworks display and did not own any fireworks, Las Vegas Fire Department spokesman Tim Szymanski said.

Instead, the family of three adults and one infant was settled into their home at 602 Madison Ave., near Washington Avenue and Interstate 15, about 9:40 p.m. when one man, who was about to take a shower, heard a big boom. He then noticed an orange flickering just outside his bathroom’s frosted-glass window.

“A bush was on fire, and the fire kept getting bigger,” Szymanski said.

The man grabbed a gallon of water from inside his home and poured it all over the bush but failed to extinguish the flames, Szymanski said. Quickly, the man tried to hook up a garden hose so he could better douse the blaze, but it spread too quickly.

By the time fire crews showed up, the flames had shot up an exterior wall and ignited the attic.

“We had to rip the ceiling down,” Szymanski said. “It was all black.”

As illegal fireworks continued to pop overhead, it took crews 30 minutes to extinguish the smoldering blaze, which caused about $55,000 in damage. No one was burned, but one family member with a history of respiratory issues was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation.

Szymanski said this was the first fireworks-related house fire of the season in Las Vegas.

“We haven’t had fireworks-related house fires for the last couple of years,” Szymanski said, adding that the decrease is likely because wood shingles are less common.

Still, for the next few days, Szymanski said, a homeowner’s best defense is a good offense. That means having garden hoses hooked up and ready, just in case a tree or bush catches fire outside. It also means over-watering plants this week, so they are less likely to catch fire in the first place, and removing any trash or leaves from yards.

“Most of the calls where people sustain property damage from fireworks, they weren’t using the fireworks,” Szymanski said. “They were just innocent bystanders.”

The Southern Nevada Red Cross is helping the displaced family.

Follow @rachelacrosby on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Mike Shoro contributed to this story. Contact Rachel Crosby at rcrosby@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290.

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