Fire along Interstate 5 causes backup, leads to fatal crash

August 11, 2018

A brush fire along northbound Interstate 5 snarled traffic Thursday night, leading to a miles-long backup and a crash that killed a 22-year-old Stanwood man.

The fire was reported near Bow Hill Road about 7 p.m. It spread quickly down the backside of Bow Hill, Skagit County Fire District 14 Chief David Skrinde said.

Units from Skagit County fire districts 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11 and 14 responded to the fire, Skrinde said, as well as the South Whatcom Fire Authority and Department of Natural Resources.

A Natural Resources helicopter crew dropped water onto the fire, which slowed the blaze, Skrinde said.

While crews battled the fire, one lane of traffic was closed, said State Patrol trooper Travis Shearer.

At about 11:15 p.m., Shearer said troopers responded to a collision that had occurred during the backup caused by the fire. While traffic was stopped, Shearer said another collision involving five cars occurred.

In that collision, a 22-year-old man, Chase Blair, was stopped in his 2002 Ford Focus when a Chevy Silverado driven by a 20-year-old Mount Vernon man crashed into the back of Blair’s vehicle, killing him, Shearer said.

That collision caused three other vehicles to crash into each other, a news release from the State Patrol said.

The driver of the Silverado was injured and transported to Skagit Valley Hospital, the release stated.

No one else in the other vehicles was injured.

The collision is under investigation, Shearer said, but it appears the Silverado was travelling “at or above” highway speeds and did not brake.

“We’re not sure what was going on,” he said. “We’re still working on that.”

Fire crews spent the night clearing up the 4-acre blaze, said Janet Pearce, public information officer with Natural Resources.

As of Friday afternoon, she said the fire was no longer an issue, but people were on site monitoring the scene.

Multiple agencies are investigating the cause of the fire.

Update hourly