This image shows where my house (red pointer) was in relation to the fire (white dot.)
October 16, 2017 started out just like any other day…
I had packed some items and had them in storage, but a lot weren’t in boxes. Instead of bringing the boxes to the storage facility, I brought the items home with me to pack: clothes, jewelry and supplies/tools, shoes/boots, and paintings – some by my brother.
Fear of Fire 🔥
My worst fear, living here, in the Santa Cruz Mountains, was what happens if a fire breaks out. And I made an evacuation plan for this very reason (before my boyfriend moved in with me. He had only been living with me for the last few months.)
There have been other fires near this area – always occurring during the day. Some were close, some farther away.
Before picking up my boyfriend from work, I had been calling for my cat, Felipe, but he had caught a squirrel earlier on in the day. And I think he might have eaten it.
I hate having my cats outdoors, and Felipe was the only cat allowed outside during the daylight hours because he’d annoy the other cats with his antics. You see, he was younger than my three other cats by several years.
My boyfriend and I managed to get home at about 10:00 PM. I continued to call for Felipe, who normally comes to his name. There’s only been one time that he stayed out until after midnight before coming inside the house.
So, my boyfriend and I, were on the deck, smoking our cigarettes, when I received a text from my neighbor up the road, stating there was a fire.
Fire Below the Deck
This isn’t the greatest picture, but that little spark in the darkness is the fire, about a mile away as the crow flies.
We had about 30 minutes to evacuate. I gathered my three other cats: No Mar, Blur, and Aby, and then attended to my three dogs: Lance, Gwenyth, and Halo. I continued calling for Felipe. Crying and screaming his name.
I grabbed my laptop, iphone, my CPAP equipment, pet food, and my pets’ and my medications. And then we left, literally with the clothes on our backs.
We were just about to leave when my landlord drove up to tell us we had to go right now. (But he would end up staying at his house for 4 1/2 more hours to fight the fire.)
As we were driving down the mountain, there were embers floating in the night sky.
I drove all of us to my friends’ house. They set us up in their RV. It was cramped with all of the cat carriers, but it was somewhere to call home. And it’d be home for the next couple of weeks.
(My boyfriend was actually going a separate way from me, and he moved into a room for rent in Brookdale within the week.)
In the collage above: Lance and Halo are on the bed, No Mar is laying on top of a cushion that’s atop the two cat carriers underneath for Miss Blur and Abygayle, who are scaredy-cats by nature. Gwenyth, my 17 year old Miniature Pinscher is in the dog crate, also underneath the cushion.
October 17, 2017
This text message was from my neighbor who lived up the road from me.
In the morning, we drove up Bear Creek Road to see if we could go back home and call for Felipe. There was a road block, actually there were several of them… but we couldn’t even make it through the first one.
We had been waiting to hear if we could go back to our homes, but the fire was anything but contained.
Every day, I drove up Bear Creek Road, in hopes to be able to look for my kitty, Felipe. And every day, I had to turn around and drive back.
My boyfriend and I went to the Red Cross, as we had heard that the fire evacuees would get $100 vouchers, but they were out.
I went to the SPCA looking for Felipe, and posted his pic to see if anyone knew of his whereabouts.
October 18, 2017
Still not able to look for my kitty.
But I did receive a text from my landlord, Marvin, in response to my text:
When I read these texts, I lost it, of course. My whole life was in that house. And if my home is gone, where is Felipe going to go?
Kevin Foster is the leader of the Facebook group, Boulder Creek Neighbors, and I posted about my home being destroyed in the #BearFire. The residents (members) came together for me, and had me start a list of everything I may need for my new home.
I’m still floored to this day for the abundance of love I received from my townsfolk. They rallied together and helped me out with clothes, kitchen items, dog and cat stuff, donations to name but a few.
Summit Veterinary Hospital boarded and vaccinated my dogs and cats for free. (Bless their hearts too!)
Capitola Groomingdales also boarded my pets for free when I moved into my Dad’s house for the next two weeks after living in the RV.
SIFTING THROUGH the ASHES
After calling for Felipe and looking for him, I started sifting through the ashes, looking for beads and my rings (diamond/gold rings, ruby/white gold ring.)
Every day I spent doing the same thing – looking for Felipe and sifting through the place I once called home. I found a porcelain piglet figurine that was in my jewelry box, but I didn’t find any of my rings. I also know that there were some people who never left the mountain, and went through people’s homes looking for anything of value, and also had metal detectors.
Once the police found out about this situation, there were law enforcement that came out to protect people’s homes, but not those who lost their homes.
Next up: Rising from the Ashes