For individuals who live within the California fire “hotspots”, they know preparation only goes so far. Because when a wildfire sparks, the blaze can spread within minutes. Everything in it’s path faces absolute destruction. And you have mere moments to flee with your family and cherished belongings. But sadly, family pets are not always as prepared for the sudden panic. Many flee or hide in fear; their owners forced to hope for future reunions. So when a family in California had to leave their three beloved cats behind, their loss was triple.
Miraculously however, that triple loss turned into a triple reunion!
The Carmel Fire began last month near Monterey Bay, California. It was believed to have been started from a rare lightening storm that hit the area. It spread throughout the valley causing mass destruction.
On August 18, 2020 a fire broke out in Sky Ranch near Cachagua in Carmel Valley. The fire burned for for 19 days and was fully contained on September 4, 2020, burning a total of 6,905 Acres, destroying 73 structures and damaging 7 more.
The Nicholson family relayed the terrifying experience to local reporters.
“We left with just the bare essentials and unfortunately not the cats, we couldn’t get them,” said Claire Nicholson. The fire was coming down the mountain like a firewall and she had just enough time to gather paperwork before she and her daughter had to flee. Their home is a total loss.
Their trio of family felines were no where to be found.
But as firemen battled the blaze, Claire held out hope that the cats had found a way to avoid the flames. As soon as emergency crews and animal rescue teams were able to access the area, the search began. Not only for the Nicolson cats, but for hundreds of displaced animals.
One fireman had noticed something inside a burned and hollowed carcass of a van during cleanup. There were two singed and ash covered cats hiding inside! The SPCA Monterey County was onsite and were alerted to the situation. The immediately rushed over to the scene and were able to retrieve the scared felines.
The two escapees hadn’t gone far though, because the torched van belonged to their owners!
Taking a chance, they ran the plates to the vehicle and contacted the owners…the Nicholson family.
Yesterday, we rescued a cat and kitten from Via Cielo off Cachagua Road in Carmel Valley. The kitten suffered burns to all four paws but is expected to make a full recovery.The kitten, Bubs, suffered burns on all four paws but is happy, affectionate, and getting lots of love at the SPCA. He is receiving pain medication, antibiotics, and care for his injuries. The cat, Mango, is uninjured but is covered in dark soot. Both were examined and treated by SPCA Chief of Shelter Medicine, Dr. Elneda Connors.We were able to locate their owners, who are thrilled the kitties survived. Although they have lost so much, they are thankful for this miracle. And we are, too. We will continue to care for Mango and Bubs, all thanks to you. Our hearts are with Mango and Bub’s owners during this difficult time. Thank you for making all our rescues possible.
It was only a few days later that their third cat, Griz was also discovered!
Once allowed, the family returned to their property and found a third cat, Grizzy, who suffered minor burns and is recovering with them. Grizzy is shyer than the other cats and hid while SPCA rescuers were on scene.
“We have cared for burns of other types, on other parts of animal bodies, dogs and cats, but burned feet are difficult because the animals need to be able to walk,” said SPCA veterinarian Elneda Connors.
The family has now found a new home and the triple reunion is officially in the books.
Bubs stayed with the SPCA and a loving SPCA foster family during his recovery as his treatment included daily bandage changes performed by SPCA veterinarians. All of this was done at no charge to the family or to any other fire evacuee, all thanks to your support.