Napa man says 2 horses survived wildfire, found their way home

Byby Leslie Brinkley KGO logo
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Napa man says 2 horses survived wildfire, found their way home
Among the devastation in the North Bay are also stories of survival.

NAPA, Calif. (KGO) -- Devastation from wildfires can be seen all over parts of the North Bay. It's still very smoky up in Napa with ashes in the air.

A 99-year-old and a 100-year-old couple perished in the fire in their home on Atlas Peak Rd. while trying to escape. There's still china scattered throughout, a kitchen sink, a microwaves - remnants of a life that's gone now.

FULL LIST: North Bay fires prompt evacuations, road closures

Among the devastation are also stories of survival. "You could see the big 'ol flames like 15, 20 feet high and I told my family, 'pack up whatever is important, leave,'" said Napa fire evacuee Pepe Tamayo. "And I said I'm done, I'm gonna die."

PHOTOS: Deadly fires burn in Napa, Calistoga areas

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Debbie Wolfe looks over the burned ruins of her home of 30 years Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, in Santa Rosa, Calif.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo

Tamayo, his wife, parents and son tried to escape but access on Atlas Peak Rd. was blocked and the family of five was trapped.

He set his two horses free, hoping they'd survive. "And that was like a nightmare because we go up and down, up and down and then finally they tell us to park here and a helicopter came here and they lift us up," Tamayo said.

But their dog, Lizzy, had to be left behind. "I put it inside the truck, one of the firemen told me he was going to take care of it so the dogs are OK, which is good. So we're all good except the house is burnt up," he said.

You drive and see home after home and estates - ghost-like remains in a shadowy moonscape devoid of color. And then surprises.

What's the possibility of a pumpkin and scarecrow unscathed, the house they're in front of reduced to ashes? What about chairs, untouched, outside a home that is no more?

These incongruent images hit you at every turn and show the capricious nature of a vicious fire that roared down Atlas Peak Rd. along the Silverado Trail in Napa Valley.

"It is a bad dream. We lost everything and it looks like someone threw a bomb and got rid of everything," Tamayo said. "It's really hard. More you think it makes you feel like crying. But the good part is that we're alive and we survived."

The horses survived and showed up Tuesday morning at what was Tamayo's homestead. He used extension cords as makeshift leads to guide them out of this greyed-out fire zone.

Take a walk down the streets and you see home after home, it's even hard to comprehend. Then there's one standing and then there's more homes annihilated.

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Click here for full coverage on the North Bay fires.