PAYETTE — The Payette Fire Department is investigating an accident that occurred Friday afternoon where a 5-year-old Fruitland boy was seriously injured when he became buried in sawdust after falling into a pit at his father’s Payette business.

Payette Police Chief Mark Clark said the boy was with his father, Mark Dame, in the hopper area of Dame’s wood pellet business at 633 Second Ave. S. He said the two were around the sawdust pit when the boy fell in and became buried under about eight feet of sawdust. He said by the time officers, who arrived first to the scene, and the father were able to pull the boy out he had been buried for about three minutes and was not breathing.

Payette Fire Chief Steve Castenada said the call came in at 2:50 p.m. Friday.

“When we got on scene they had found him and were digging him out,” Castenada said, adding fire personnel took over resuscitation efforts, performing CPR and trying to clear his airway until medics arrived.

Clark said an air ambulance call was cancelled after it was determined the boy’s condition was too critical at that time to fly out, and he was driven to Saint Alphonsus-Ontario to receive immediate help.

While neither Clark nor Castenada knew the boy’s condition as of Friday afternoon, according to a Facebook post later by a friend of the family, doctors were able to remove much of the sawdust from the boy’s lungs, and he was breathing on his own and his color improving. According to the post, the fact the boy was without oxygen for so long is still a concern.

Castenada said the investigation is ongoing as fire personnel will be speaking with the boy’s father about the circumstances of the accident.

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