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 died Tuesday in the Santiam Fire in Marion County, along with his 71-year-old grandmother, Peggy Mosso.
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.
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
New details emerged Friday about the final moments of 13-year-old Wyatt, one of an unknown number of people who have died in the Oregon fires as dozens are missing across the state.
The teen’s devastated family told CNN the body of the ‘kind-hearted’ boy 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 her daughter and Wyatt’s mom Angela Tofte desperately tried to save her from the fireball.
Angela survived but is in critical condition with full body burns.
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
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 bereaved mom was so badly burned that her husband and Wyatt’s dad Chris Tofte didn’t recognize her when he passed her during his frantic search to locate his missing son, wife and mother-in-law.
Chris spotted Angela on the road as he was driving into the wildfires looking for his family around 4am Tuesday, the Statesman Journal reported.
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 she was unrecognizable from her usual self.
When he told her he needed to find his wife and son, she replied: ‘I am your wife.’
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