Las Vegas Sun

May 26, 2019

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After rowdy Fourth, county eyes curbs on neighborhood fireworks

Fireworks Safety

Sam Morris

Illegal fireworks, including a homemade one, are seen at the Las Vegas Fire Department’s annual fireworks safety demonstration, June 27, 2012.

Clark County commissioners are looking for ways to curb the use of illegal fireworks after a Fourth of July holiday that saw some noisy neighborhood displays carrying on late into the night, annoying neighbors, frightening pets and generating 600 calls to Metro Police.

"When it gets down to the point where the neighborhood fireworks shows become better than the shows at Cashman Field or over on the Las Vegas Strip, there's a problem," said Commissioner Lawrence Weekly, who called the use of fireworks on the recent Independence Day "pretty ridiculous."

Weekly was quick to acknowledge that restricting personal use of fireworks is not a popular topic among the public and added he "loves a good fireworks show," but he said the neighborhood displays were affecting residents' quality of life.

Weekly and other commissioners expressed support for the so-called "Safe and Sane" fireworks sold in Clark County, which are sold by nonprofit groups like sports teams, churches and scout troops.

Instead, the discussion focused on illegal fireworks brought into Clark County from nearby Nye County or the Moapa River Indian Reservation, which can fly dozens of feet into the air before exploding, risking property damage and causing late-night noise pollution.

Stopping the use of illegal fireworks will prove challenging if not impossible for the county, but commissioners requested that staff study solutions over the coming months and report back.

Fire department and police are already stretched thin on the busy holiday, when calls for service double as people drink, carouse and sometimes get into fights.

Further complicating matters, police can only issue misdemeanor citations if they catch a person in the act of lighting an illegal firework.

"An officer could theoretically spend all night on just one street trying to enforce this," said Chuck Calloway, Metro's director of intergovernmental services.

While commissioners plan to speak to their counterparts in Nye County about why high-powered fireworks are sold there, there's nothing they can do about fireworks sold at the Moapa reservation, which falls outside Clark County's governance.

Weekly said a good start toward solving the problem would be a public information campaign to let people know which fireworks are legal and which aren't, along with publicizing the punishments if caught.

"I just think if we start educating the community right now, that we're paying close attention to it as opposed to the community feeling that our heads are turned the other way," Weekly said.

Other solutions discussed Tuesday included raising the fines for illegal fireworks usage or hosting public fireworks shows in county parks to discourage people from using their own in neighborhoods.

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