Assistant fire chief severely burned has ‘long road to recovery’

A veteran firefighter badly burned while fighting the Spring Coulee Fire remains in a medically-induced coma following recent skin graft surgeries.

Okanogan Volunteer Fire Dept. Assistant Chief Christian Johnson was fighting the Spring Coulee Fire September 1, near Okanogan, when flames overcame him. He was immediately flown to Harborview Medical Center, in Seattle.

Johnson suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns across about 60 percent of his body, according to Okanogan County Emergency Management. He also had severe injuries to his airway.

I’m getting an update today on how the Okanogan Volunteer Fire Dept. Asst. Chief Christian Johnson is doing. He suffered second and third degree burns over 60% of his body while fighting the Spring Coulee Fire more than a week ago. He’s recovering at .@harborviewmc. #4NewsNow

— Ariana Lake (@arianaKXLY) September 9, 2019

Washington State Council for Fire Fighters (WSCFF) Burn Foundation representative Melissa Beard said surgeons recently completed some skin graft surgeries. Citing respect for the family, she shared this brief update.

“He is intubated. He’s had several surgeries now that he has tolerated, which is good,” Beard said. “He’s going to have to have many, many more surgeries.”

Johnson served with the Okanogan Fire Department for 20 years, according to information from a GoFundMe account. He served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army before his time as a firefighter. Christian was deployed with the Washington State National Guard in Baghdad in 2003. He retired from the military after 22 years of service and then started his career with the fire department.

Beard said despite Johnson’s extensive injuries, she’s hopeful he’ll recover.

“He was a fighter. He was in the military. So, he’s got a hard fight to fight and I think that he will fight it and pull through,” Beard said.

Beard said there are various ways to support the Johnson family now and in the future. The WSCFF Burn Foundation is working closely with the Johnsons to make sure they’re supported during the extensive recovery in Seattle.

“Anything they need, we are willing to take care of,” Beard said.

A GoFundMe account to support Johnson and his family has raised more than $15,000. An online update said that cards can be sent to Johnson here:

Christian Johnson C/O
Medic One Division
325 9th Avenue
Room 2CT99 Box 359727
Seattle. WA 98104