Local News


2 seriously hurt in fireworks incident at Nevada desert site

Posted at 6:54 PM, May 30, 2022

(AP) — Two men were seriously injured in a northern Nevada desert fireworks weekend incident at a large gathering of people at a popular off-roading and party area, authorities said.

One man was hospitalized in critical condition for a punctured lung he suffered when he was struck in the chest by a firework that went into a crowd of people after exploding in the hand of a man who lit it at midnight Saturday, the Washoe County Sheriff's Office said Sunday in a statement.

The man who lit the firework was standing on a rock outcropping before a crowd of 500 people, the statement said.

He suffered "major deformities and injuries to this left hand" and was hospitalized in stable condition, the statement said.

No identities were made public.

People at the scene helped both men before medical personnel arrived and arranged transport to hospitals, the statement said.

The incident was a reminder of the danger of fireworks, "especially when combined with alcohol or other substances," the sheriff's office said.

"Fireworks are not only dangerous but illegal to possess in Washoe County," said Sheriff Darin Balaam. "Any fireworks display should be left to professionals."

No arrests were made but the investigation into the incident was ongoing, sheriff's Sgt. Jeff McCaskill said Monday.

McCaskill said it wasn't immediately known what type of firework was involved.

The incident occurred at Moon Rocks, a desert area with prominent rock features on federally owned land about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Reno.

The federal Bureau of Land Management in 2021 approved a management plan for the 30-square-mile (77-square-kilometer) site, citing a rise in visitation and incidents requiring law enforcement responses, the Reno Gazette Journal reported

Planned improvements included signage, a fence to limit uncontrolled expansion of camping areas and off-highway vehicle (OHV) routes and implementing speed limits near campsites and on access roads.

"For 20 years it's been a free for all," Philip Fell, then-chairman of the Nevada OHV Commission, previously told the newspaper. "It's a little bit Mad Max out there, especially over holiday weekends."