SEATTLE - An Okanogan firefighter who was burned Sept. 1 in the Spring Coulee Fire has undergone several more surgeries at Harborview Medical Center.
Assistant Fire Chief Christian Johnson received second- and third-degree burns over 60 percent of his body in the fire southwest of town. As of Sept. 16, he was in serious condition.
The incident is under investigation by the state Department of Natural Resources and Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office.
Johnson was flown from the scene to Harborview.
Family friend Amy Freel, Okanogan, has started a gofundme.com account for Johnson and his family. She also posts updates on his condition.
On Sept. 13, he had skin graft surgery on his face and neck, and continues healing. The next surgery, possibly Sept. 17, will be grafting skin on part of his body.
He had surgery on his back and sides Sept. 9 and previously had surgery on his chest, abdomen, arms, tops of his hands, shoulder and sides, according to Freel.
She said the family appreciates all the prayers and positive thoughts from people in the community and beyond.
“We have been asked what people can do,” she wrote. “We ask if you are able to, donate blood in his name. Christian over the years has donated gallons of blood to the American Red Cross, and it would be an awesome donation. It wouldn’t matter what your blood type is; all blood donations help save lives.”
Red Cross blood drawings are scheduled for noon to 5 p.m. today, Sept. 18, at the Omak Elks Lodge, 110 S. Ash St., and noon to 5 p.m. tomorrow, Sept. 19, at the Winthrop Barn, 51 Highway 20.
As of Sept. 15, 465 people had donated $33,845 through the gofundme.com account; the goal was $15,000. In addition, an account to help Johnson and his family, the Christian Johnson Donation Account, has been set up at North Cascades Bank, P.O. Box 672, Okanogan, WA 98840.
A spaghetti dinner and benefit auction is planned at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, at the Elks Lodge. Dinner is by donation, with the auction to follow. Larry Campbell will be the auctioneer.
Donations to the auction may be made by contacting Donna Dahlquist, 509-557-2192.
Johnson cannot have visitors, but cards may be sent to Christian Johnson, c/o ICU Burn Unit Ninth Floor, 325 Ninth Ave., Seattle, WA 98104.
Johnson is expected to spend two to three months in the intensive care unit, according to Okanogan County Emergency Management.
His wife, Pam, who works for the Okanogan County Treasurer’s Office, is with him.
Johnson also serves as building official for Okanogan, Tonasket and Oroville, and was scheduled to be temporary building official for Omak after the retirement of Jake Dalton.
On Sept. 3, Okanogan County commissioners approved an interlocal agreement with the four cities for county building inspectors to provide some services.
Cause of the fire and events leading up to Johnson’s injuries are being investigated by DNR and the sheriff’s office.
DNR spokeswoman Bobbi Cussins said the investigation continues into the fire’s cause and how Johnson’s injuries came about.
“A team has been delegated by DNR and the fire district to conduct a review,” said the DNR wildfire division, as relayed by Cussins. “It is currently in progress.”
Okanogan County Sheriff Tony Hawley said his office is assisting DNR.
Johnson is retired from the Army and Washington National Guard. He was a sergeant in the Army and was deployed with the Guard to Iraq from November 2003 to May 2005.
He has volunteered for the Okanogan Fire Department for 20 years.