Southwest Washington fire chief fired over affair with subordinate which led to partner's suicide


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

Police report 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 but would not say why.

Stuart, who was initially placed on administrative leave, told The Daily News on Monday, he believed everything would "turn out fine" prior to the termination decision. Stuart declined to comment after he was fired.

Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office deputies were called to Wilson's home on Nov. 6 when she reported her husband was threatening to kill himself. She apparently was not home at the time of the call.

An incident report says Wilson also asked Stuart to check on her husband, and Stuart was the one who found Kamden Wilson dead in a bathtub with a gunshot wound to the head and pistol in his hand. 

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

The sheriff's office report states 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% medically disabled," Nicole Wilson told deputies about her husband. She said he was prescribed anxiety medicine but didn't take them on Nov. 6. 

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

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