OKANOGAN — The remains of firefighter Christian Johnson, who died last week from injuries sustained while fighting a September fire, were brought home Saturday to the community he served for more than two decades.
Community members gathered at the annual Harvest Festival to welcome a procession of fire trucks bringing Johnson back from the Seattle area.
As the procession neared, the town’s emergency sirens were turned on. Festival-goers moved to the sidewalk and watched quietly as the line of police cruisers, ambulances and fire trucks drove slowly up Second Avenue.
The trucks stopped at the Okanogan Fire Station at 2 p.m., where Johnson’s family took a moment to thank the community for their support.
A public memorial service is being planned for later this month, said Lifeline Ambulance General Manager Wayne Walker, who’s helping to coordinate the event.
Johnson joined Okanogan Fire District 3 in 1999 and most recently served as assistant chief, according to his GoFundMe page.
He also served in the Army and in the Washington State National Guard. He was deployed to Iraq from 2003-05.
OKANOGAN — A public memorial service for Assistant Chief Christian Johnson will be held Oct. 24 at the Okanogan County Fairgrounds Agri-Plex.
He was injured in the Spring Coulee Fire just south of Okanogan on Sept. 1. He had exited his brush truck with another firefighter — who wasn’t injured — and, at some point, the fire “overtook him,” Maurice Goodall with Okanogan County Emergency Management said at the time. The fire was contained after 90 minutes at 142 acres.
Johnson was treated at the scene and then flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with second- and third-degree burns to more 50-60% of his body.
He was treated there for just over a month, then died at the hospital on Oct. 2.
Further details on what specifically led to Johnson’s injuries haven’t been released. The state Department of Natural Resources is investigating the cause and origin of the fire, DNR Northeast Region Manager Ken McNamee said last week.
His family has asked, 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.