SEATTLE — A veteran volunteer firefighter is fighting for his life after sustaining second and third-degree burns over more than half his body.
“I think we’re in the beginning of a very long battle and he’s going to have a very long fight ahead of him but he’s a very strong man and we’re sure that he is going to pull through – he’s a fighter,” said Ethan Freel, an Assistant Fire Chief for the Okanogan Volunteer Fire Department.
Christian Johnson, an Assistant Chief for the Okanogan County Fire Department, was severely injured while working on the Spring Coulee Fire in Central Washington that started over the weekend.
Johnson has second and third-degree burns over 50 to 60% of his body. He was airlifted to Harborview Medical center in Seattle where he remains in the ICU.
His family and fellow firefighters are by his side.
"His wife Pam, she’s been a trooper and has her head high and her spirits are high but we have the real side of things – off work and bills still need to be paid,” Freel said.
Johnson is an Army veteran who was deployed to Iraq and spent 20 years in the military. He also spent 20 years as a volunteer firefighter in Okanogan.
As he recovers, his family and fellow firefighters are asking for help. They have established a Go Fund Me for people to donate, and it's already raised thousands of dollars.
“It’s a reminder firefighters get hurt every year doing this, it’s a very dangerous job I hope it’s an eye-opener to other firefighters to remember that things can change at any moment and to keep an eye out for them,” Freel said.
The Spring Coulee Fire started over the weekend near B&O Road North between Fletcher Loop and Spring Coulee roads. The fire spread to the north and burned about 150 acres before being contained a short time later.