TOPPENISH — A Toppenish man was killed in a fireworks accident Thursday during a busy Fourth of July holiday for fire crews.
Crews in Yakima County Fire District 5, which covers most of the Lower Valley, had 20 brush or grass fires during the holiday, as well as two fireworks-related injuries, one of which later became a fatality, said Deputy Fire Chief Joel Byam.
“It’s the first fatality related to fireworks I can remember,” Byam said.
William Winnier, 48, was hit in the chest by a fireworks projectile, Yakima County Coroner Jim Curtice said. Winnier died at Astria Toppenish Hospital, Curtice said.
Byam said the incident is being investigated by the Yakama Nation tribal police.
In District 5, firefighters spent Independence Day putting out grass fires, as well as dealing with five non-fireworks-related medical calls and two motor-vehicle crashes.
The district also provides dispatch service for seven Lower Valley cities, and said units there responded to eight brush and grass fires.
“We’re seeing more fires in areas of little population, just on the side of the road,” Byam said. “Those are due to people out there being knuckleheads.”
Yakima firefighters had 15 fires in the city related to fireworks during the holiday, with all but one of them in vegetation, according to a fire department news release. One building had minor damage from fireworks.
Fireworks are illegal in the city of Yakima and most of Yakima County.
East Valley firefighters said the night was relatively quiet, with only eight calls for fireworks-related fires, said Lt. Trevor Lenseigne. Fireworks are legal and popular in Moxee on July 4 on private property.
“In Moxee, we had a good showing by the police roaming around, so people would be on their own property (setting off fireworks),” Lenseigne said.
He said there were also no fireworks-related injuries.