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Onalaska woman seriously burned by fireworks

(Shelly Gardner photo) Amanda Allen at Harborview Medical Center after her burns were cleaned and bandaged. She was struck by a large firework on the Fourth of July.
(Shelly Gardner photo) Amanda Allen at Harborview Medical Center after her burns were cleaned and bandaged. She was struck by a large firework on the Fourth of July.

Amanda Allen, 24 of Onalaska, says she is glad to be alive after a firework hit her in the face on July 4 near Oakville, leaving her with second- and third-degree burns on her chest and face. 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. “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.”

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.