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Firefighter severely burned in Okanogan Co. wildfire

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SEATTLE -- A Washington state firefighter is awaiting surgery at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after being severely burned while fighting a wildfire in Central Washington over the weekend.

Christian Johnson has been hospitalized in critical condition since Sunday. He is currently in a medically induced coma.

Doctors are attempting to stabilize Johnson so they can perform surgery for skin grafts. Okanogan County Emergency Management says Johnson was airlifted to Harborview with second- and third-degree burns on 50 to 60 percent of his body and damage in his airway.

Maurice Goodall, the Director of Emergency Management for Okanogan County, says it's too early in the investigation to know how Johnson was burned and what exactly happened.

"Having Chris injured is sad. I don't even know the words for it to tell you. The community feels it, he's well known around here. He was commissioned here 20 years ago since 1999, so he's been here doing this for 20 years," said Goodall.

The Spring Coulee fire started Sunday afternoon and burned nearly 142 acres before it was contained.

Investigators are still trying to figure out how the fire started. Goodall says that aside from some fire chiefs, all of the firefighters on the frontlines of the Spring Coulee fire, including Johnson, are volunteers.

"Without them, we'd have a lot of stuff burned up. They respond to vehicle accidents, to wildland fires, to a lot of false alarms. They just do it and it's quite amazing," Goodall adds.

County officials have set up a GoFundMe account to help Johnson's family through this crisis.

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