‘Unimaginable’: 1-year-old killed when family tried to evacuate Okanogan County wildfire

OKANOGAN COUNTY, Wash. — A 1-year-old was killed last weekend when his family tried to escape from the Cold Springs Fire in Okanogan County, officials said.

The parents were airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle to be treated for burns. The hospital said Wednesday evening that both were in critical condition.

The Hyland family, who is from Renton, was visiting their property in Okanogan County over the weekend when the Cold Springs Fire started Sunday evening, officials said. Jacob, 31, Jamie, 26, and their child attempted to evacuate but were caught in the flames.

“I cried the whole plane ride and I’m here to be strong for them,” said Dawnmarie Baxter, Jamie’s sister and aunt of the toddler who died. “There’s no words to put into what this does to any of us.”

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The Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office said deputies received a call Tuesday to help find the family last known to be have been in the area of Cameron Lake Road and Paxton Canyon Road, where cellphone service isn’t reliable. Loved ones say they were not able to get in touch with the family who was only supposed to spend Sunday night at the property before returning home.

Officials said the family’s truck was found burnt but not occupied.

The sheriff’s office learned Wednesday morning that the family was found along the Columbia River, in the fire perimeter, by a search and rescue team. All three had suffered burns and were transported to Three Rivers Hospital.

Jacob and Jamie were flown to Harborview Medical Center with third-degree burns. Their 1-year-old son was dead by the time search crews found them, deputies said.

“Doctors said [Jamie’s] burns are 40-70 percent of her body,” said Baxter, who told KIRO 7 Jacob suffered burns to nearly 25 percent of his body. “He was the one holding my nephew so his chest wasn’t burned as badly.”

A GoFundMe created for the family had raised more than $190,000 by Friday night.

“It’s every parent’s, and especially a mother’s, worst nightmare to lose your child,” said Baxter. “They loved that property. They had so many plans; my nephew who passed had a special name for it. It’s completely unimaginable.”

The Cold Springs Fire had burned an estimated 163,000 acres and was only 10 percent contained by Wednesday night, according to the incident commander, who said “multiple” structures had been destroyed and evacuation orders remained in place. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

“I’ve been in this role almost four years and until today, I had a few injuries of firefighters, but no fatalities,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.

The Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.