Teen who tried to save grandma found dead with dog on his lap

A young boy reported dead this week in one of Oregon’s wildfires is believed to have died trying to save his grandmother, who also died.

Wyatt Tofte, 13, and his 71-year-old grandmother Peggy Mosso died trying to escape the Beachie Creek fire that on Tuesday (local time) overtook their home in Lyons, about 27 miles southeast of Salem, the Salem Statesman Journal reported.

“I don’t need to go into too much detail but obviously ... he turned around to go try and save his grandma,” Lonnie Bertalotto, Wyatt’s uncle and Mosso's son, told The Associated Press.

When the home caught on fire, Wyatt’s mother, Angela, had told him to run for it with their bull mastiff, mix Duke.

She also knew that in order to save herself, she’d have to make the agonizing decision to abandon her mother, who had a broken leg and was scheduled for an operation days after.

Wyatt’s body was found behind the wheel of the car, with the dog on his lap. Mosso’s remains were also found in the car.

“The car was on the property," Bertalotto said. "Wyatt was in the driver’s seat and mom was in the passenger’s. We believe Wyatt was running down the hill, and came back to get his grandma and couldn’t get her out of the car. She had a broken knee and was immobile.”

Chris Tofte spent Monday night prepping for the fire, borrowing a friend’s trailer to help his family escape the encroaching blaze. He learned of his son’s death on Wednesday, while his wife of 24 years was hospitalised.

Angela is still in critical condition, with burns on her arms, back and feet, at Legacy Emanuel Hospital Burn Center in Portland -- the state’s only burn centre -- following a brief stay at Salem Hospital.

She learned on Thursday of the horrific losses she and her husband had suffered.

There are dozens missing and as many as 26 fatalities, including Wyatt and his grandma, have been reported in the wildfires.

About 500,000 Oregonians, over 10% of the Beaver State’s population, have been ordered to either evacuate or prepare to do so.

On Thursday, Governor Kate Brown tweeted that Oregon had “never seen this amount of uncontained fire across our state.

“If you’re advised to evacuate, do so immediately. You may not get a second chance," she wrote, before adding, “We are working hard to keep you safe & help you deal with the aftermath. We will get through this.”

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