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Okanogan assistant fire chief remains in critical condition after wildfire

SEATTLE -- An Okanogan County Firefighter continues to recover after half of his body was burned while fighting a wildfire. For the first time, we heard from the doctors and family members of the burn victim, Okanogan Assistant Fire Chief Christian Johnson.

It was back on September 1st when the Spring Coulee Fire burned south of Okanogan. The fire burned about 142 acres. At the time, fire crews were able to put it out in about an hour and a half. But during that battle to put it out, Johnson was burned on more than half of his body.  He was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center where since the start of the month, Johnson has been undergoing treatment. Doctors say Johnson remains in critical condition at the hospital’s intensive care burn unit. Doctors wouldn't go into specifics about his recovery process, but they say it will take several months.

“To be able to rehab because you have to manage some scars that will naturally form, ability to move, ability to walk, ability to eat, smile and get back to whether its school, work or your natural environment, and your society, it`s difficult,” said Dr. Saman Arbabi, Harborview Medical Center’s professor of surgery in trauma.

Assistant Chief Johnson is an Army and National Guard veteran. According to his wife Pam, they’ve been married for 24 years. She also said he’s selfless, kind, and always ready to help someone.

“Where does my strength come from all of this? It’s the love of Christian and my faith that we’ll get through this and that we’re tough enough to get through anything,” said Pam Johnson.

A GoFundMe account was established shortly after he was hospitalized. More than $30,000  has been raised which will go toward helping in recovery efforts.

According to Dr. Arbabi, they’re also keeping a close eye on his breathing.

Doctors are not only treating burns but also are keeping an eye on his breathing.

As his lungs were affected as well from the fire as well.

“The first goal when we get the patient is we have to keep the patient alive. Sometimes breathing through the airway, becomes a problem, especially when smoke is involved,” said Dr. Arbabi.

Pam says Christian hasn’t been able to physically talk to her yet.

“He’s sedated right now, but he does move his feet a little bit. So, I take that as a good sign,” said Johnson.

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