SEATTLE, Wash. - A veteran firefighter badly burned while fighting the Spring Coulee Fire has passed away.
Okanogan Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Christian Johnson was fighting the fire in early September when flames overcame him. He was immediately flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he had been undergoing treatment and was in the process of recovering.
At a press conference in September, Johnson's doctor said he was not only battling burn injuries, but also respiratory issues.
Okanogan County Emergency Management officials said Johnson passed away on Wednesday, surrounded by his wife Pam, family and friends.
“The family is grateful for the loving care Christian received from Harborview Medical Center staff, and the unwavering support they received from the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters Burn Foundation,” the post reads.
The family has requested, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters Burn Foundation, Washington Wildland Fire Foundation or the Red Cross.
Johnson served with the Okanogan Fire Department for 20 years. He was a sergeant in the U.S. Army before his time as a firefighter and was deployed with the Washington State National Guard in Baghdad in 2003.
Johnson retired from the military after 22 years of service and then started his career with the fire department.
Washington state's Commissioner of Public Lands, Hilary Franz, issued a statement Thursday morning calling Johnson a hero.
"Everyone at DNR is holding the family of Assistant Chief Christian Johnson in our hearts. Christian, an Army veteran and a member of Okanogan County Fire District 3, is a hero." Franz said.
"I cannot imagine how difficult and heart wrenching this time has been for his family. Even though Christian was not a DNR firefighter, we consider him one of our own, and his family, friends, and colleagues are in our prayers."
Johnson’s celebration of life will be announced once arrangement have been finalized.
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