There’s a general feeling of safety when it comes to this side of the mountains. The recent wildfires east of the Cascades are a perfect example of this. Brave first responders putting their lives on the line 100 miles away can feel disconnected from our shell of safety, but sometimes tragedies hit close to home and put things in perspective. This was the case on Aug. 20 when word reached the City of Milton that Daniel Lyon, one of its reserve officers, had been injured in his other role as a first responder while battling wildfires in Twisp.
“Daniel came to us about a year ago interested in law enforcement and we did an interview. He was a great applicant,” Milton Police Chief Tony Hernandez said.
Lyon graduated from the academy in May and was honored to be able to serve a community as an officer.
“He is a wonderful person,” Hernandez said. “When he is [at the department] hanging out, he is always very happy, very upbeat, very excited to be working in the city of Milton.”
Due to Lyon’s passion for service, Hernandez completely supported his decision to volunteer as a first responder during wildfire season.
“I said ‘that’s great, you’re a young man, this is a great opportunity for you,’ He ended up doing that part time for fire season and coming back on his days off and reserving in the City of Milton,” Hernandez said.
Lyon was working in Twisp when a wildfire killed three firefighters and injured four others, including Lyon.
“It takes a very special person to volunteer to serve others, and an even more special person willing to put their life on the line. Daniel is that kind of person. With his energetic optimism and his eagerness to fight, I have no doubt that he will pull through this,” Mayor Debra Perry said.
Lyon was rescued with third degree burns covering over half of his body, and was admitted to Harborview in critical condition. His condition has improved slightly since first being admitted, having his status upgraded from critical condition to serious condition.
“He’s talking a little bit. He’s able to have a very small meal, drink a little bit of water and has been upgraded from critical to serious condition. He has a long way to recover. He’s had some surgeries to remove any dead issue, and he will have skin grafts in the coming weeks,” Hernandez said.
As the news has spread through the city of Milton, citizens have come out in support of Lyon in the same way Lyon has supported the city of Milton.
A fundraiser at Haggen on Aug. 28 was able to raise over $27,000 for Lyon’s medical expenses, despite only having a week to get organized. Those who still want to donate to his recovery can drop off a check at the Milton police department, located at 1000 Laurel St. or visit www.gofundme.com/522dv5pk.
“Service before self is in his blood,” Hernandez said. “He’s a great attribute to the city and we appreciate him and his dedication to service. We want him to get better and return.”
The incredible amount of support pouring out for Lyon is a reminder of the risk first responders put themselves in, but also the amount of support they have from the community.
“Our hearts, thoughts, prayers go out to firefighters and their families who were recently lost in the wild land fires,” Hernandez said. “We’re reminded how dangerous this is for first responders that go in and do this day in and day out. Service before self, I think sometimes people lose sight of, but these people are out there doing selfless acts every day.”