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Nevada tribe says man killed in fireworks-related accident

Updated July 10, 2019 - 5:02 pm

The Moapa Band of Paiutes is investigating after an 85-year-old man died following a firework-related accident July 4 on the reservation.

Hector Moreno of Mexico died from blunt force head trauma early Friday after an explosion at the Moapa Paiute Travel Plaza, about 30 minutes northeast of Las Vegas, according to the Clark County coroner’s office.

Video from witnesses shows a burst of fireworks that lasts for about a minute before a flaming pickup truck becomes visible. As the truck burns, fireworks continue to explode, launching from the vehicle or skittering along the ground.

The explosions continue for more than five minutes as some onlookers run toward the truck and others run away. In the background, people are heard screaming, swearing and cheering.

The tribe said in a statement that the explosion was caused by “unsanctioned fireworks activity” rather than its annual Fourth of July celebration. Several fires and injuries were reported, but details of those injuries were not available Wednesday.

The Moapa Valley Fire District was in the area at the time, fire Chief Stephen Neel said. Firefighters found two vehicles in flames at the scene, he said, and the fire spread to two other vehicles before it was extinguished.

“We were just there doing our own patrol through our jurisdiction,” he said.

Neel said a preliminary investigation showed that fireworks may have been the cause of the fire.

The Paiutes contracted Guardian Elite Medical Services to work during the official fireworks display. Neel said it was a Guardian Elite ambulance that transported Moreno to University Medical Center, where he died.

Fireworks were still being sold out of a back room at the travel plaza on Wednesday. A desert area behind the building was littered with firework debris and smelled of sulfur.

The tribe said it is reviewing the accident and will not comment until the investigation is complete.

Contact Max Michor at mmichor@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0365. Follow @MaxMichor on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Rio Lacanlale contributed to this report.

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