Injured firefighter: Wildfire ‘stood up and made a huge run … flames were licking under my face’

SEATTLE, Wash. -- A firefighter is recovering at Harborview Medical Center after getting severe burns on his body while fighting wildfires in the state.

Brett Read is many things. He is a husband. He is a father. He’s also a firefighter. He had risked his life to protect others for seven years. Recently, that risk of losing his life was closer than he’s ever experienced.

“It’s a chance that everyone takes when we lace our boots up every day. But if we don’t lace our boots up, who’s fighting them?" Read said.

Read works with Okanogan County Fire District Number 8. On Saturday, he and his team were battling the Grass Valley Fire. Read said that in the blink of an eye, the situation got out of hand.

“Fire's unpredictable. We engaged the fire; everything was going. We decided to disengage the fire because it was intensifying, wind shifts. We were backing out of the fire, disengaging, and that’s when the fire stood up and made a huge run,” he said.

Read said the flames overtook the truck he was on. He was forced to run through the fire to another truck.

“The flames, they were licking under my face. I could see nothing but fire and the intense heat,” he said.

Read said while racing to get medical attention there was one thing on his mind.

“I had to tell my wife.”

Now, Read is in Seattle and hundreds of miles from his house in Omak, but he still has his home.

“Family is everything, especially for us,” Read said from his hospital bed, surrounded by his wife and kids.

Despite the severe burns, Read said he has not had any surgeries. He doesn’t know when he will be able to return home but said his family and friends are helping make every day go by.

“The encouragements, the phone calls, the cards keep coming; that’s what gets me through,” he said.

Read doesn’t know when he will get out of the hospital, but he knows where he wants to go when he gets out.

“I’d still be out there today [fighting fires} if they’d clear me,” he said.

FEMA reports so far this year that 64 firefighters have died across the country.

Read said this is why he is sharing his story. He said he wants to build awareness for the families who are not as lucky as him.

Just in a few days, thousands of dollars have been raised for Read via GoFundMe.

Gov. Jay Inslee also stopped by Read’s hospital room and presented him with a pin and honored him as Washingtonian of the Day.