On Wednesday morning, officials found the deceased child along with 31-year-old Jacob Hyland and 26-year-old Jamie Hyland of Renton, Washington, on the bank of the Columbia River in Okanogan County with third-degree burns.
According to officials, the young couple and their son abandoned the vehicle they had been traveling in as they attempted to escape the Cold Springs Fire, which erupted in the state on Sunday night.
A search began for the family after someone contacted the sheriff’s office on Tuesday afternoon, and a burned truck was later found without the family inside.
The Hylands and their son were taken to Three Rivers Hospital in Brewster, Washington, before the young couple were transported to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center to receive treatment for their burns by trauma and burn specialists, ABC News reported. They remain in critical condition.
“It’s absolutely devastating and heartbreaking,” Okanogan County Sheriff Tony Hawley told the news outlet.
“The family was attempting to leave their property to get away from the Cold Springs Fire,” he said in a statement. “This fire was coming and there wasn’t much that could be done to stop it. It was going to go where it wanted to go.”
An investigation into the child’s death is ongoing, the sheriff said. Hawley said the boy’s death is being probed as a homicide to see whether the fire was “human-caused.”
“This child would not be dead without this fire beginning,” he said.
Hyland’s family said in a statement that the child’s father needs surgery on his arms as a result of his injuries.
“His chest and face also have patches of burns but we will not know until he is cleaned up. Internally he looks fine, they have his lung inflated,” the family said.
“Jamie has more burns on her body, and we are waiting on the scans for her. Her burns mostly consist of her upper body. Her arms already had the surgery they will be doing on Jake to help relieve the tension from the burns,” they added.
“They are both still critical at this point, but Jamie is more so than Jake. Jamie’s body is at 30-40 percent burned as of now, and Jake is at 15 percent. From what they know now.”
A GoFundMe campaign has been created for the family, with donations going to the Hylands.
Authorities said Wednesday that more acres burned in Washington in a single day than firefighters usually see all year. The Cold Springs Fire and the nearby Pearl Hill Fire have burned at least 337,000 acres across several counties.
As of late Wednesday, the Cold Springs Fire was at zero percent containment, according to KING 5.