Associated Press and Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune
Authorities say a volunteer assistant fire chief has died after being badly burned during a forest fire in Eastern Washington last month.
KOMO-TV reports that 55-year-old Christian Dean Johnson died Wednesday at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he had been in intensive care.
Johnson worked with Okanogan County Fire District 3. He was on the scene Sept. 1 at the Spring Coulee Fire south of Okanogan, which eventually grew to 142 acres. Authorities have determined that Johnson and another firefighter were outside of his brush truck on the north end of the fire when he was overcome by flames. The other firefighter was able to outrun the fire, but came back to try to treat Johnson and call for help, officials said.
“The fire was coming over the hill… then the fire overtook him,” said Maurice Goodall of Okanogan County Emergency Management.
Johnson suffered second and third degree burns and was in a medically-induced coma at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Doctors said he had burns over more than half his body.
Johnson was a sergeant in the Army, and was deployed with the Washington State National Guard from November 2003 to May 2005 in Baghdad. He retired after 22 years of service and volunteered for the Okanogan Fire Department for 20 years. He worked as the Building Inspector/Permit Administrator for the cities of Okanogan, Oroville and Tonasket.
Okanogan County Emergency Management said the family is grateful for the support he received from Harborview and the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters Burn Foundation.