MILTON, Wash.-- Milton police officers have been going in shifts to visit reserve officer Daniel Lyon at Seattle's Harborview Medical Center after he was severely burned while fighting a wildfire near Twisp.
Lyon, 25, of Puyallup, was in critical condition Thursday with third-degree burns over 60 percent of his body.
In addition to be a reserve Milton police officer, Lyon was working as a U.S. Forest Service firefighter Wednesday when a wildfire near Twisp suddenly shifted; 3 firefighters died and four were injured, including Lyon.
With just 21 people, including reserves, on the Milton Police Department force, Chief Tony Hernandez feels a closeness to each of his officers.
“Daniel came to us about a year ago and volunteered for our reserve program,” said Hernandez.
So when the 25-year old told his chief he wanted to help battle the fires scorching the state, Hernandez said there were no questions asked.
“He had graduated from the academy in May and right before summer he came to me and asked me how I felt about him going and fighting fires for the summer, and I said, 'Great, you obviously have that first-responder in your blood,'" said Hernandez.
But as news got out Wednesday that the fires in Twisp had killed three firefighters and hurt four others, he couldn’t help but wonder.
“It had crossed my mind that I knew Daniel is fighting fires, but then I thought there was no way it could be Daniel,” said Hernandez.
Then he got a phone call.
“We got a call from a medic who worked on him over there, and he didn’t have any idea and the things he muttered to the medic is call the Milton Police Department,” said Hernandez.
It was news that quickly spread not just through the department but to the rest of the town.
“You don’t want to hear it of a complete stranger, but you definitely don’t want to hear it of somebody of your own,” said Milton Mayor Debra Perry.
Perry and Hernandez headed to the hospital together Thursday to see Lyon, in hopes to rally around a young man who they say didn’t just serve this small community of Milton but risked his life for an entire state.
“To serve a community and put your life on the line is something I absolutely can’t say I can fully understand,” said Perry. “We want to support Daniel as much as Daniel supported us.”
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