EXPECT DELAYS – Lines of traffic move slowly down Sawmill Creek Road today as a repaving project progresses near the Indian River bridge. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Two Seriously Hurt In Fireworks Accident

Sentinel Staff Writer

Two young women were seriously injured in a fireworks accident Friday night as they watched the Fourth of July fireworks display some distance from the launch site on Japonski Island.

Friends identified the women as sisters Karen and Michelle Maytorenas of Sitka. They said both were taken to the hospital, and Karen was later medevacked to Seattle.

The exact details of what occurred are not clear, since everything occurred quickly and it was dark, said fire chief Dave Miller.

Miller said the sisters were among 30 or 40 people watching the display from about 150 yards from the launch site, and that all was going as planned until the finale, around midnight.

Miller, who was about 100 feet away from the launch site, said it was clear to him something had gone wrong because fireworks were going off at ground level.

“That was the longest 10 to 15 seconds -- it felt like a half-hour,” the chief said. “It happened so fast ... It looked like something fell over.”

He said it was not clear how the women were injured.

Although accidents involving professional fireworks displays are rare, an ambulance is always standing by as a precaution, Miller said.

He said EMTs responded quickly and took one of the women to the hospital. Her sister was taken to the hospital by a second ambulance responding to the scene, the chief said.

A GoFundMe fundraising effort for the sisters was started by Leona Pfeiffer, who works with Karen Maytorenas at Sitka Counseling. The website at press time today showed that over $6,100 toward the $10,000 goal had been collected in donations from 79 community members. Donations in cash and Alaska Airlines miles are being accepted, she said.

Karen Maytorenas is a 2017 graduate of Sitka High School and her sister Michelle just finished her sophomore year at Sitka High. 

Pfeiffer said other fundraisers are in the works. She said both of the young women grew up in Sitka, and while she does not know Michelle well, she said Karen is “the sweetest girl. She is so good with all the child clients here.”

A professional fireworks display has been a Sitka Fourth of July tradition for many years. Originally sponsored by Sheldon Jackson College, the fireworks display was taken over by Petro Marine in more recent years. After Petro announced that it would not sponsor the fireworks display this year because of coronavirus concerns, individual and business contributions raised the $19,000 cost to stage the pyrotechnic show.









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August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:


On March 30 the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

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– The Sitka Sentinel Staff


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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 8-7-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 11:20 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 53

Total statewide – 3,536

Total (cumulative) deaths – 25

Active cases in Sitka – 20 (14 resident; 6 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 15 (11 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 141.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 




August 2000

High prices for chum salmon, low pink returns, and record numbers of fish in Deep Inlet have turned the Sitka fishing grounds into Route 66 this summer. “Overall it’s been a fantastic season so far,” said Steve Reifenstuhl, operations manager for the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association.

August 1970

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Ireney, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, will head a gathering of Orthodox prelates from North American and abroad in ceremonies canonizing the first American Orthodox saints, Father Herman of Alaska. A group of Sitkans will fly to Kodiak for the event.