Woken up in the middle of the night by loud pounding and dragged to safety due to the wildfires, Patti Meyer screamed for her dogs, but there was no time.
According to SFGATE, Meyer was taken to Sonoma's St. Francis Winery, which was serving as a temporary shelter. There she called her ex-fiancé, Sean Mallary, who lives 20 miles away in Forestville.
"She was hysterical, screaming she'd been evacuated and the dogs were still in the house," he said. "I jumped in my van and drove as fast as I could; there were giant oak trees blowing down on the highway. When I got there, the house was already burned to the foundation."
Eight Bernese Mountain Dogs, four Bernese puppies, and two Miniature Dachshunds had perished in the flames. Most had died in Meyer's bedroom where they slept, but a Bernese named AnnaBelle and her four-week-old puppies were next door in the guest room. The firefighters couldn't get to them on time.
When Mallary returned the next day to sort through the ashes, a firefighter approached him in tears.
"He told me he knew there were dogs in the house but had to get Patti out because things were happening too fast. He went back five minutes later to get the dogs. By that time, the house was engulfed in flames; he couldn't get near it."
"I shook his hand," Mallary said. "He probably saved her life; she sleeps like the dead."
For Meyer, a former veterinary tech who breeds Bernese Mountain Dogs as a hobby, it was the worst thing imaginable.
"They were like my children," she said, sobbing. "All that's important to me, all that I want, would be for my animals to have gotten out."
She'd lived in the house set on 2.5 acres in the back country since her dad built it 42 years ago. Meyer also lost her rabbit and two pigs. Meyer's three horses and a steer survived the fire but cannot be brought through fire checkpoints. She brought them hay and water.
"This happened in just seconds," she said, recalling waking out of a deep sleep to the pounding at her door. "Everything now is just the aftermath."
Have you ever lost a pet in a fire? Let us know in the comments section below.
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