85-year-old Marysville man dies in 'freak accident' while fighting brush fire

MARYSVILLE, Wash. -- A 85-year-old man died Thursday while fighting a small brush fire near his backyard, Marysville Fire Department officials said.

Dispatchers received calls of smoke around 12:20 p.m. near a home in the 4100 block of Meridian Street, in the Priest Point neighborhood. The caller told dispatchers that a person also fell down a nearby embankment while fighting the fire with a hose.

Neighbors called the death a freak accident, adding that the flames took off as the man burned trash in a fire pit outside his home.

“Just a freak accident,” said neighbor Robert Post. “Total freak accident to happen to a nice person.”

When emergency responders arrived, they saw smoke and heard a man yelling. After crews gained control of the flames, they discovered the man’s body at the bottom of a steep embankment.

Post thinks he knows what happened.

“(He) attempted to burn some trash in his backyard. My understanding is it got out of hand on him,” he said.

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office took over the investigation

Neighbors believe the hot dry weather caused the fire to spread out of control.

“It’s so dry, as soon as it hit that cliff it ignited,” said Post. “Once it ignites and the wind catches it, and there’s always a wind on a cliff, the party’s over.”

The 85-year-old man and his wife recently retired from Boeing, according to neighbors.

Debby Sherman remembers the victim as a great guy.

“He liked visiting all his neighbors,” she said. “He would go up and down the street, see what’s going on and tell us what’s going on. He was fun and he was a nice guy.”

Officials have not yet released the man’s identity or cause of death.