Angela Mosso packed up a few items on Monday evening for her and the family to take with them. Her husband named Chris Tofte took a drive into town to borrow a trailer from a friend so they could transport their family, dog, and some of their belongings.
However, while family members were sleeping, the Bea5chie Creek Fire rage onward. The blaze reached their house eventually, and what meant to be a calm night to prepare turned into a harrowing loss, according to the Statesman Journal.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown said over 40,000 residents in the state had to be evacuated out of their homes because two big wildfires driven by the wind scorched through the Pacific Northwest. There are different levels of evacuation zones that include around 500,000 people who either have been told to leave or to make preparations to evacuate. Six deaths have been reported along with dozens of missing people.
Aged 13 Wyatt Tofte from Lyons, Oregon, and his 71-year-old grandmother Peggy Mosso, are among those in the reports. The two died on Tuesday morning while they tried to escape the blaze that overtook their home.
This is 12-year-old Wyatt Tofte and his grandmother Peggy Mosso. Wyatt was found dead with his dog near his home in Lyons, Oregon where the Santiam Fire is burning. His grandmother was also killed. They are the first two confirmed deaths in the Oregon wildfires. pic.twitter.com/7iNI1UZ7pY
— Brian Kosciesza (he/him) (@BrianKosh) September 10, 2020
The trio along with their dog and three cats escaped the house at first and drove off in one of the family’s cars. But unfortunately, they weren’t able to make it that far.
Angela’s brother, Lonnie Bertalotto, thinks the car caught on fire after the tires melted. As they gradually became surrounded by flames, Angela Mosso realized she needed to save Wyatt. She told him to make a run for it and to take the dog with him.
Angela also realized that if she was going to survive, there was no other choice than to leave her mother, Peggy Mosso, behind. On Friday, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office identified the remains of Peggy Mosso. Bertalotto said on Friday that Peggy was suffering from a broken knee that was planned to be operated on in the next few days.
Angela Mosso dredged across almost three miles of hot asphalt. Chris Tofte returned to the home with the trailer at around 4 a.m. in the morning after he drove through a blockade that was separating him from his family and the blazing inferno.
Chris Tofte was struggling to navigate through smokey, dark road, and he nearly ran over a woman who’s mouth was blackened, with charred hair and barefoot in her underwear. Chris Tofte helped her get into his car and told her he was searching for his wife and son.
She then exclaimed: “I am your wife.”
Now back in the car, Tofte made a one-eighty and floored it toward the blockade at high speed. Chris Tofte left his wife he’s been married to for 24 years with paramedics and went back to look for his son, Wyatt.
The fires had spread out even farther by that time. Tofte wasn’t able to go as far as he could the first time, so he looked for his son Wyatt the following day and night.
Friends and relatives posted photos of Wyatt on social media and thousands of people shared the images of Wyatt.
On Wednesday, Tofte finally talked to a Marion County sheriff’s deputy. The deputy said they found Wyatt behind one of the family vehicle’s wheels back at their home property and the boy’s dog Duke was resting on his lap. The remains of Peggy Mosso were also discovered inside the vehicle.
“I don’t need to go into too much detail, but obviously, he turned around to go try and save his grandma,” Bertalotto said.
Angela Mosso is receiving medical treatment at Portland’s Legacy Emanuel Hospital Burn Center. On Thursday Angela Mosso was told that both her son and mother had died.
Bertalotto hasn’t seen Chris Tofte, his sister Angela, or his brother-in-law since the day of the fire because the hospital only allows one guest per patient to prevent coronavirus from spreading.
Bertalotto wept and said, “It’s just unbelievable when a fire can move that fast. Everything was lined up to be a disaster …and no one knew it.”
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.