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Thursday, February 22, 2024
Feb. 22, 2024

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Ariel fire chief fired over affair with subordinate that led to partner’s suicide


ARIEL — The Cowlitz-Skamania Fire District 7 fire chief was fired Monday because he had an extramarital affair with a subordinate, the district said.

The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office said the subordinate’s spouse later killed himself after discovering the affair.

Fire Chief Keith Stuart was terminated due to a relationship with volunteer firefighter Nicole Wilson, Cowlitz-Skamania Commissioner Denny Parkhill said.

Parkhill said he resigned Monday in protest of Stuart’s dismissal.

Stuart, who was initially placed on administrative leave, told The Daily News earlier Monday that he believed everything would “turn out fine.” Stuart declined to comment after he was fired.

Cowlitz deputies were called to Wilson’s home Nov. 6 when she reported her husband was threatening to kill himself. She was not home at the time of the call.

An incident report said Wilson also asked Stuart to check on her husband; Stuart found Kamden Wilson dead in a bathtub with a gunshot wound to the head and gun in his hand.

Nicole Wilson arrived soon after, followed by her mother, Judy Salisbury, the fire department’s crisis counselor, accoring to the the sheriff’s office report. (In November, Salisbury was elected to the Cowlitz-Skamania Fire District 7 Board of Commissioners after running unopposed.)

The sheriff’s office report said Kamden Wilson learned about the affair from a text message between his wife and Stuart. The Wilsons discussed divorce but decided to work on the relationship. On Nov. 6, he texted his wife that he “can’t go on without her,” which prompted her call to 911.

Kamden Wilson was a U.S. Navy veteran and “100 percent medically disabled,” Nicole Wilson told deputies. She said he was prescribed anxiety medicine but didn’t take it Nov. 6.

Although Stuart was separated from his wife during his affair, he still lived with her and was legally married.

The chief is the only paid position at the fire department headquartered at 11670 Lewis River Road in Ariel, according to the district’s website. The district spans portions of Cowlitz and Skamania counties, with two stations in Ariel, one in Cougar and another in Amboy.