Two die during Fourth of July celebrations in Skagit County

In one case, a kayaker was hit in the chest by a firework he ignited and fell into the water.

By Kimberly Cauvel / Skagit Valley Herald

Two fatalities and a house fire were among the emergencies first responders were called to during the Fourth of July holiday.

One death was caused by a firework and another by an accidental gunshot wound. A house in Mount Vernon caught fire after fireworks set some nearby trees ablaze.

On the afternoon of July 4, a Camano Island man died at Skagit Valley Hospital after sustaining what was reportedly an accidental gunshot wound in the woods south of Hamilton.

The Skagit County Sheriff’s Office received a report about 2:15 p.m. that a 56-year-old man was being driven in a private vehicle to the intersection of South Skagit Highway and Highway 9 to meet an ambulance, according to a news release.

The man was with 10 people from five separate families who had been shooting in an area about 17 miles up Finney-Cumberland Road, according to the release. The group reported that while cleaning up, a firearm was accidentally discharged.

Skagit County Undersheriff Chad Clark said a 50-year-old man who was close friends with the deceased was apparently holding an AK-47-type rifle that accidentally discharged.

“They had a barbecue up there and were shooting guns,” Clark said. “It’s a popular area to go shooting up there.”

An investigation is ongoing.

Later, as the Fourth of July came to a close, sheriff’s deputies responded just after midnight to the C Street Boat Launch at Clear Lake. There, a 44-year-old kayaker had been hit in the chest by a firework he ignited. He also fell out of the watercraft.

Clark said others at the lake had retrieved the man from the water and lifesaving measures were attempted, but the man died at the scene. He was not known locally, with his last registered address being in the Everett-Marysville area.

Also on the Fourth of July, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community responded to a fireworks-related injury. About 10:45 p.m., a 45-year-old La Conner man was reportedly struck in the side by a firework launched on Front Street.

Swinomish Police Chief Lou D’Amelio said an officer stabilized the man until emergency medical services arrived and transported him for treatment.

First responders were also called to a few fires on the holiday, including one house fire and one brush fire in Mount Vernon.

Shortly after 7:30 p.m., trees in the 1400 block of Mount Vernon’s Virginia Street were reported on fire. Fireworks set off in the neighborhood caught trees on fire and spread to a home. The residents have been displaced.

The fire is under investigation by the Skagit County Fire Marshal’s Office and Mount Vernon Fire Department. Neither agency had more information Monday.

Mount Vernon Fire Chief Bryan Brice said his department also responded to a brush fire about 10 p.m. July 4, in the 1800 block of East Division Street.

There, an individual reportedly was waving a sparkler that broke apart, Brice said. A lit piece of the sparkler landed in a tree, which caught fire.

By the time firefighters arrived, the individual had secured water and put out the flames. Brice said some vegetation and a portion of plastic fencing were damaged.

The Skagit County Fire Marshal’s Office is relieved there weren’t more fires caused by self-ignition of fireworks in lieu of public shows this year. Recent damp weather is credited with preventing potential fuels from igniting easily.

“Weather worked in our favor and created a lower risk of major fires or incidents from fireworks,” Skagit County spokesperson Laura Gelwicks said on behalf of the Fire Marshal’s Office.

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