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Rain makes Las Vegas firefighters happy on the Fourth

Firefighters were grateful for the rain this Independence Day, which may have cut down on illegal fireworks mishaps.

The holiday was the slowest it’s been for the Las Vegas Fire Department in three years, department spokesman Tim Szymanski said Satuday.

The department responded to 69 fire-related calls, compared to 108 last year.

Valleywide, the number of calls for fire or medical help appears to have dropped slightly.

This year 1,039 calls came in for Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and unincorporated Clark County on the holiday. Last year the number was 1,093.

Clark County Deputy Fire Chief Jon Klassen said his department fielded dozens of calls about illegal fireworks and, while nothing huge happened, it was busy all night.

“It’s just a bad night. Everybody goes and buys these illegal fireworks thinking they are smarter than the people who made the laws against them,” Klassen said. “We try to educate people and try to tell them how dangerous it is — but it doesn’t seem to make a difference.”

Las Vegas police responded to 738 calls about illegal fireworks, Lt. Ken Romaine said. Metro hadn’t tabulated the number of citations this holiday Saturday night, but only four people have been cited in the past two years.

Szymanski said Las Vegas responded to several calls about lightning strikes. He noted that it’s possible some people lied about lightning in order to cover up a firework blunder.

There were roughly 60-70 lightning strikes that hit the ground in the Las Vegas Valley from Fourth of July into the night the next day, said National Weather Service meteorologist Andrew Gorelow.

Ray Johnson, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service, characterized the holiday as mild this year. Mount Charleston didn’t see any fires, though three engines and a helicopter were on hand just in case, he said. There was one fire in Moapa and another in Jean, he said.

Henderson firefighters also had a slow holiday, Henderson Battalion Chief Scott Satterlee said. That department handled a little more than 80 calls, which isn’t more than what it would see on a typical day, he said.

Usually Henderson firefighters work nonstop from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Independence Day, but that just didn’t happen this year, Satterlee said, attributing the relative calm to the rain.

Las Vegas was named the top Fourth of July destination in the world by the national travel booking website Orbitz.

Contact Bethany Barnes at bbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Find her on Twitter: @betsbarnes.

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