A MAN who was desperately searching for his missing wife, son, and mother-in-law in the blazing Oregon wildfires stopped to help a badly burned woman, not realizing she was in fact his wife.
Chris Tofte's son was later found dead in one of the family's vehicles, clutching the family dog, after having tried to save his grandmother.
Tofte was headed into the raging Beachie Creek Fire when he almost ran over a badly burned woman who was lying in the middle of the road in her underwear.
His wife Angela, their 13-year-old son Wyatt, and Angela's mother Peggy were all missing after the fire consumed their home, which is around 30 minutes outside of Salem.
At 4am on Wednesday, Tofte had headed back in his green Jeep Cherokee to search for his missing family, when he came across the woman, the Statesman Journal reported.
He tried to help her impatiently, explaining he had to hurry as he was searching for his wife and son.
She eventually told him: "I am your wife."
When the family's home set alight, Tofte had been out trying to find a trailer for the family to flee in with their bellongings.
Angela had told her son Wyatt to escape on foot along with their bullmastiff dog, while she initially opted to stay with her mother Peggy, who had a broken leg.
Ultimately, Angela had to decide to leave her mother behind, to die in fire. Her remains have yet to be recovered.
Angela was forced to walk almost three miles on burning hot asphalt road, and is now in a critical condition at the Legacy Emanuel Hospital Burn Center in Portland.
Wyatt's body was eventually found in one of the family's cars, the dog draped over him, alongside the remains of his grandmother Peggy.
A fundraiser started for Tofte and his wife has raised $88,793, described Wyatt as "heroic".
"Angie told her 13 year old son Wyatt to run. It was pitch black outside except for flames and smoke.
"However, Wyatt did not keep going to safety, and instead went back to the car and tried to drive his grandmother out of the flames. The road was so hot, it burnt the tires up. He was a heroic boy, trying against all odds to save his grandmother."
The Beachie Creek Fire has now burned more than 186,000 acres, killing four people, with another 10 still missing.
"Peggy was a devoted grandmother who always had a smile on her face and always had kind words to give," the fundraiser, started by Tofte's extended family, continued.
"Wyatt was a kindhearted, strong and brave young boy who was fascinated by trains and loved to go fishing.
"Angie survived the fire but suffered full-body burns and is currently in critical condition at the burn center in Portland. Her road to recovery will be a long one and will be further complicated by the devastating loss of her mother and child."
Four people have now been arrested on the West Coast for deliberately starting blazes as wildfires rage.
Cops detained two men in Washington, man in Oregon and woman in California as the desperate battle to contain the fires continues.
So far 24 people have been killed though the authorities in Oregon have told residents to brace themselves for a “mass fatality incident”.
Oregon Live reports Michael Jarrod Bakkela, 41, has been arrested on two counts of arson, 15 counts of criminal mischief and 14 counts of reckless endangerment.
The fire Bakkela started is considered to be one of the origins of the Almeda fire and the two quickly merged, said Oregon State Fire Marshal’s office spokesman Rich Tyler.
Photos show the towns of Phoenix and Talent reduced to ashes after the Almeda fire tore through.
It has killed two people, destroyed a thousand homes and laid waste to 5700 acres.
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said on Tuesday evening, a Phoenix resident saw a person, who was later identified as Bakkela, lighting a fire behind their house.
Because of the blaze, the residents who saw him set the fire had to flee their home.
State troopers and sheriff’s deputies who arrived saw Bakkela standing close to a large fire that was threatening several homes.
Jackson County Sheriff's Office public information officer Mike Moran told ABC News there is “significant damage" stemming from the fire he’s accused of starting.
"There are numerous homes, many of which are burnt completely, some are just heavily damaged, that are part of the 15 counts of criminal mischief," he said.
Meanwhile the California Highway Patrol said 37-year-old Anita Esquivel was arrested after being accused of intentionally starting fires and is being held Monterey County Jail arson, KION reports.
Trooper Ryan Burke, Washington State Patrol District 1 Public Information Officer for Pierce and Thurston counties said that two men have been arrested for arson.
He tweeted that a 36-year-old Puyallup resident was caught on State Route 167 at Meridian for setting a fire on Wednesday and is now in jail.
On Thursday another pedestrian was spotted lighting a match in the grass at State Route 512 and State Route 7.
The incident was observed by a citizen who called 911 and after a short chase on foot the person is in custody.
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