Santiam Fire: Man rescues badly burned woman only to find out she is his wife, son found dead hugging pet dog
Chris Tofte shared how he was unable to recognize his badly burned wife Angela as he helped her escape the Santiam Fire after his son, wife and mother-in-law went missing in the blaze
An Oregon man has come out to talk about the heartbreaking moment when he was unable to recognize his own wife because she was so badly burned in the Santiam Fire in Marion County, Oregon this week. Tofte's son, mother-in-law, and wife had gone missing in the blaze that has been ravaging the county for days. It has also been revealed that the couple's 13-year-old son died while clutching his pet dog.
It has since been reported that Tofte's wife has been admitted to the hospital in critical condition in the hospital. Tofte spoke of the heartbreaking moment when he realized that he had helped his wife without knowing it was her. He said that she had revealed, "I am your wife" as he helped her into his car. Angela was transported first to Salem Hospital, then to the Legacy Emanuel Hospital Burn Center in Portland. In addition to her feet, she has burns on her arms and back as well.
Tofte's 71-year-old mother-in-law Peggy Mosso was also killed in the fire despite her daughter attempting to free her from a burning vehicle. Oregon officials are bracing for a "mass fatality event" as 29 people have so far been reported to be killed in the devastating wildfires that continue to rage across the West Coast. Two large blazes threaten to merge at the most populated region of the state and about 10% of the population has already been forced to flee their homes.
Tofte had shared that he was out at 4 am on Tuesday morning, September 9, and had seen Angela on the roads. When Tofte visited his wife on Tuesday, the one thing she had told him was "Don't come back until you find him". That very night Tofte drove back up North Fork Road while she was on her way to Oregon's only burn center, in an attempt to look for Wyatt, however, the fire had spread by then.
Tofte continued to search the next day and night as he called his son's name out all throughout the day while Tofte's friends and family spread the word by posting photos of Tofte's son Wyatt on Facebook and as a result, thousands of people shared the posts. In between, Tofte also received false hope when he was told that his son was found safe and sound at a friend's place. However, that was not true.
By then Tofte had become frustrated with law enforcement's reaction which was obstructed by the dangerous wildfire that was still spreading. So then Tofte started his own search party with friends and family's efforts. On Wednesday afternoon, Tofte organized a search party that met at the Stayton Park and Ride to coordinate plans, and they left to the base of North Fork Road.
It was later in the day that Tofte was contacted by Marion County Sheriff's deputies who informed him that Wyatt had been found dead, hugging his dog. He was, reportedly, found in the driver's side of a vehicle on his family's property, with Duke, their dog, draped over him. His search came to a heartbreaking end when he learned that his son was no more.