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Laid-Off Firefighters to Work Through Fourth

WASHINGTON PARK, Ill. (AP) - Laid-off firefighters in the village of Washington Park in southern Illinois say they'll work as volunteers through the Fourth of July when fireworks generally cause about 10 fires.

The village board on Tuesday laid off seven firefighters, retaining only an interim fire chief. Half the employees of the street department also were let go. Washington Park has a $7 million deficit and Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka has called for the state attorney general to investigate the village's finances.

The paid firefighters earned $10 an hour. The Belleville News-Democrat reports that the village has hired a consultant at $40,000 a year and a planner at $25,000 a year.

Laid-off firefighter Andre Henderson tells the newspaper village leaders "don't understand that the citizens of Washington Park will be in danger."

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