A husband desperately searching for his family in an Oregon wildfire has told how he was unable to recognize his wife because she was so badly burned, as it’s revealed their 13-year-old son died while clutching his pet dog.
Chris Tofte spoke of the heartbreaking moment his wife Angela, who is now in a critical condition in hospital, told him ‘I am your wife’ as he helped her into his car and told her he was searching for his missing wife, son and mother-in-law in the Santiam Fire in Marion County Tuesday.
The couple’s son Wyatt Tofte, 13, died Tuesday in the blaze after huddling in a car with his pet dog to try to escape the roaring flames.
The boy’s 71-year-old grandmother Peggy Mosso was also killed as Angela tried in vain to free her from a burning vehicle.
At least 29 people have been killed in the devastating wildfires that continue to ravage the West Coast with Oregon officials bracing for a ‘mass fatality event’ after 10 percent of the population has been forced to flee their homes and two large blazes threaten to merge around the most populated part of the state.
A 13-year-old boy who was killed in an Oregon wildfire this week died after huddling in a car with his dog to try to escape the flames. Wyatt Tofte pictured
Wyatt (pictured in an undated image) died Tuesday in the Santiam Fire in Marion County, along with his 71-year-old grandmother, Peggy Mosso (right). Wyatt’s mom Angela Tofte (left) is in critical condition with full body burns
New details have emerged of Wyatt’s and Mosso’s horrifying final moments and the desperate rescue efforts of the Toftes to try to find their loved ones alive as the flames ripped through the neighborhood where they lived.
Bereaved mom Angela was so badly burned that her husband Chris didn’t recognize her when he passed her during his frantic search to locate his missing son, wife and mother-in-law.
Chris told the Statesman Journal he was driving into the wildfires looking for his family around 4am Tuesday when he spotted Angela on the road.
She was wearing underwear, her bare feet were severely burned and her hair and mouth were black, he told the outlet.
He stopped to help her into his car but her injuries had left her unrecognizable from her usual self and he did not realize she was his wife, he said.
When he told her he needed to find his wife and son, she replied: ‘I am your wife.’
Angela and Chris both survived but Wyatt and Mosso were consumed by the blaze and their bodies discovered by rescue teams later this week.
Their devastated family broke their silence to tell how the teenager’s parents desperately searched for their son as the flames ripped through the neighborhood where they lived. Pictured Peggy Mosso (left) and Wyatt Tofte (right)
The devastated family told CNN the body of ‘kind-hearted’ Wyatt was found in a car with his pet dog on his lap.
‘After a long search for Wyatt, he was found in a car with his dog on his lap, but unfortunately, was not able to escape the fire,’ a family statement said.
The family spokesperson said they believe Wyatt ran and clambered inside the vehicle with his dog to try to escape the roaring flames.
The boy’s grandmother was found dead in a separate car that became engulfed in flames as Angela – Mosso’s daughter – desperately tried to save her from the fireball, herself sustaining full body burns.
The family paid tribute to Wyatt and Mosso and thanked emergency crews for helping in the search.
‘Our family is devastated by the loss of our kind-hearted 13-year-old Wyatt and his beloved grandmother Peggy in the Santiam Fire in the early morning of September 8th,’ the family statement to CNN said.
‘Wyatt, just the sweetest little boy; loved to fish, played video games, like a lot of kids, just a very sweet polite, boy.
‘We want to thank all emergency personnel and people who helped in the search. Our family appreciates the love and support we have received from everyone during this terrible tragedy.’
Oregon firefighters work behind caution tape in Mill City, Oregon, on Thursday as they continue to battle the Santiam Fire
Firefighters douse embers of the Santiam Fire in Mill City Thursday. At least 29 people have been killed in the devastating wildfires that continue to ravage the West Coast
A charred swing set and car are seen after the passage of the Santiam Fire in Gates, Oregon, Thursday. Oregon officials are bracing for a ‘mass fatality event’
The charred remains of the Gates Elementary School, which was being used as a staging ground by firefighters, after the Santiam Fire ripped through it
At least eight people have been reported dead in the Oregon wildfires although authorities are yet to confirm official figures and dozens are unaccounted for.
Marion County officials said Friday evening that rescue crews had found two more victims of the Beachie Creek fire near Salem.
Fears are mounting that the death toll could climb much higher as Oregon’s emergency management director, Andrew Phelps, warned officials are ‘preparing for a mass fatality event’.
‘We know we’re dealing with fire-related deaths and we’re preparing for a mass fatality event based on what we know and the number of structures lost,’ he said.
More than one million acres and thousands of structures have been destroyed by the dozens of blazes across the state sending 500,000 people fleeing their homes in their masses.
Hundreds of firefighters battled two large wildfires Friday that threatened to merge near the most populated part of the state, including the suburbs of Portland, causing the city to declare a state of emergency Thursday.
In California at least 20 have died and there has been at least one death reported in Washington state.
The Bobcat Fire burns down trees in the Angeles National Forest on Friday in Monrovia, California
Volunteer Elizabeth Stoltz of Heisson waters the Fort Vancouver Garden in Vancouver, Washington, on Friday