A 24-year-old Onalaska woman is glad to be alive after a large firework hit her in the face on the Fourth of July near Oakville, leaving her with second- and third-degree burns on her chest and face.
Amanda Allen was watching the display near the Chehalis Tribal Center July 4 at about 10:45 p.m. when a firework lit by people in the audience went astray.
“The people next to us were setting off mortars and cakes and stuff,” Allen said Monday. “The cake they lit off tipped over, and the last shot in the cake shot my boyfriend in the chest. It bounced off him and hit my face and went down my shirt.”
She remembers she was less than 30 feet from the large firework.
“It hit me full blast,” Allen said. “The mortar ball itself split my lip open, I had to have five stitches.”
Fortunately, several Chehalis Tribal Police Department officers were nearby when she was hit.
“I remember everything that happened, but it’s really kind of surreal,” Allen said. “I ripped off my clothes. Three cops had been walking by at that time, and when it hit me, I was surrounded by cops and a couple other people trying to help me get my burning clothes off. … I couldn’t unzip my jacket, I couldn’t get it off. I had to hulk out of my clothes. It was pretty intense, it hurt really bad.”
Grays Harbor County Fire District 1 responded, transporting her to a life flight helicopter that landed near Oakville High School to take her to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
She has second- and third-degree burns over much of her chest, shoulders, chin, neck and several fingers. She was released from Harborview Monday morning and said her doctors aren’t yet sure whether she will need skin grafts.
“It’s kind of affecting me mentally and I’m trying not to let it. I’m trying not to be affected by it too much but it’s kind of a big thing,” Allen said.
Monday morning, she said, she woke in a panic, trying to put out the fire on her body. Despite the pain and the fears about scarring, Allen has tried to keep a sense of humor and positive attitude. Photos of her in the hospital show her striking monster poses and making faces.
“I can be positive and thankful that I’m alive or I can sit around and be sad that I look like this and I’m hurt. I want to move on, and laughter is the best medicine,” she explained.
“I want to thank the first responders and the EMT people, the medical staff at Harborview. They were awesome,” Allen added.
She hopes others can learn from her experience and encourages people around fireworks to be extra aware of their surroundings.
“I was pretty aware and I still got hurt. If you’re doing fireworks, make sure you’re not doing them near people. There were kids everywhere where I was,” she said.
A 16-year-old girl was also injured by fireworks near the tribal center earlier in the day. District 1 responded to that incident as well, transporting the girl to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia.