BURIEN, Wash. - With Washington state recently fully reopened, more people are expected to celebrate this year's 4th of July. Firefighters say they don’t want to dampen the fun but are recommending that people to stay away from fireworks.
With the record heatwave the Pacific Northwest just experienced last week, it’s no surprise that here in Washington we are dealing with some of the driest conditions in recent history for this time of year.
Ahead of this year’s 4th of July, one local woman has a message. In the last couple of weeks, Cathy Kennedy started moving back into her Burien home after it burned down on the 4th of July two years ago.
The neighbor’s home caught on fire first and flames spread to Cathy’s home. Investigators believe that someone else lighting off fireworks nearby caused Cathy to lose everything.
Jacob Sagmoen witnessed and captured cell phone video of the flames that night. He saw firefighters pulling Cathy’s husband Roland Kennedy out through a bedroom window. Roland and their two dogs died that night.
"You could tell his back was bleeding it was really scarring," Sagmoen said.
Cathy says when she realized her home was on fire she yelled for her husband to get out, she thought he was behind her.
"A wall of smoke hits you in your face and it sucks your air right out. I couldn’t breathe I couldn’t see, I thought he would be running out the stairs," Kennedy said.
She still has nightmares and with another fourth coming up, but says the anxiety is getting to her.
"My nieces is going to stay with me and help me hose the roof," Kennedy said.
She is pleading with the public to give fireworks a rest this year especially with extremely dry conditions.
"You just never think it’s going to happen to you," Kennedy said.
Kennedy says they never found out who was behind the fireworks.
Besides home and wildfire danger, doctors and firefighters at a joint press conference on Friday pleading with people to think about the dangers of fireworks to your own body.
"What we see every year is significant injury, injury like hand loss or significant finger loss, of eyes we see that quite often," Dr. Sam Arbabi with UW School of Medicine said.
"If it has a fin or a stick, it flies, it explodes, it’s illegal in Washington state not just King County, but Washington State," Eric Autry with King Co. Fire District 20 said.
While most of us see July 4th as a celebration, for firefighters it takes on a different meaning. Because every year they say they are called to numerous tragedies. On Friday, a retired firefighter also reminding people to be mindful of combat veterans suffering from PTSD. They say loud firework noises can be traumatic for those people.
Last year there were more than 200 fireworks-related injuries across the state and 360 fires. Those fires ranged from house fires to rapidly spreading brushfires all because of Fourth of July fireworks.
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