A ravenous fire struck without warning in the Northern state of Santa Rosa, California. The Weavers’ family recall the night the fire hit, instantly knowing this was a life-threatening moment. Survival instincts kicked in. They knew they had to flee the family home, Katherine still in her nightgown. In the heat of the moment when faced with a life-threatening fire, the natural thing to do is to get outdoors. The problem with wildfires is that outdoors is just as deadly. It didn’t take the family long to realize that brutal reality. During the panic of realizing the horrific nature of the situation, Izzy, the family dog, had reacted on instincts and made a desperate dash for safety, instead running headstrong into the face of danger before the owners could grab her.
Where Izzy thought safety was, nobody knew. Checking outdoors to see where Izzy had fled proved impossible for the family. Strong winds were blowing, ashes tumbling from the sky and visibility reduced to near-zero. The terror of the situation was unfolding at dramatic speed that nobody could have prepared for. Getting a family out of a torching neighborhood while a beloved family pet impulsively bolts straight into the exact danger everyone else needs to flee from. The family could only hope that Izzy hadn’t sealed her fate in one last desperate bid for survival.
In Izzy’s frightened state, it was on the dog to rely on its survival instincts, find some place of safety and wait the fire out. The family knew they could not search the area given the dangerous atmosphere of the wildfire, later declared the most devastating fire in the history of the Northern State, extending over 217,000 acres of land and incinerating every neighbourhood it touched. Was there any safe-haven in the thousands of acres for Izzy to take shelter? As you can imagine, following the news coverage of the story, Katherine could only make a logical heart-breaking conclusion that the ferocious wildfire had claimed the life of the family’s much beloved furry family member, Izzy.
Firefighters in their thousands, and over 150 firefighting jets took days to extinguish the flames that were tearing through the neighborhood. All the Weavers’ family could do was wait in a neighboring State in safety with relatives, watching the news frequently for updates on when the fire was out to find out when it would be declared safe for families to return to the area. It took 36 gruelling hours after the two-day blaze was successfully extinguished for families to be notified that it was safe to return to the area to assess the damage to properties and belongings.
Katherine dreaded the journey back to the scorched area. Instead, her son Jack, along with his brother-in-law made the treacherous trip past the police barricades, up the rocky terrain climb along a narrow road to find the area the family home once stood. What they found was nothing to assess. In the wake of the fire, no properties were left standing. Instead, properties were flattened, left in a pile of smouldering ruins, mangled metal, with heaps of blackened trees where beautiful homes once stood. The entire neighbourhood was incinerated.
Words could not describe the scene that Jack and Patrick found when they reached the spot of the former family home. They could see the stairs that led up to the home, but instead of the property, all that remained was a damaged timber frame with any belongings they had in the home reduced to ashes. Everything was gone! What remained looked like the scene of a war-torn country, only instead of bombs being dropped, it was tanker jets flown just 60 metres above the treetops dropping millions of tonnes of fire retardant mixtures, which are part water and part fertilizer, used to contain the massive fires. What the fire didn’t destroy was sure to be crushed under the immense weight and force of the equipment flown in to fight the inferno. Seeing the devastation first-hand must have left Jack and Patrick with horrifying thoughts of the experience Izzy went through and spine-chilling imaginary images of any remains they would find.
Jack turned his attention away from the reality that what they once had was destroyed to focus on finding the remains of Izzy to save his Mom the further torment of a soul-crushing loss of her furry companion of 9-years, Izzy. As the pair hiked through the neighborhood, they weren’t hopeful of finding Izzy alive, yet dreaded the state they’d find her in.
Then this happened...
Izzy leapt over a garden wall, tail wagging and overjoyed to see a familiar face. By some miracle, Izzy survived the ferocious fire, and 36 hours alone in the wilderness after the blaze devastated the neighbourhood before finding his owners’ son Jack strolling through the scorched ruins of a neighborhood where they once had blessedly lived. What he found instead of utter devastation was the most joyous moment of his life.
Jack describes the reunion as one of elation. He wasted no time in switching the camera off to get a call to his Mom to break the news that Izzy had miraculously survived the inferno. Jack describes the moment he reached his Mom on the phone, saying "She went from being devastated to being the happiest person I've ever seen.” He couldn’t get home fast enough to reunite Izzy with Katherine and the rest of the family. Following the survival, the family had Izzy checked by a veterinarian, who found she was in great health and had suffered no injuries. Where Izzy found safety is unknown, but the veterinarian says it is likely that Izzy was insulated from the fire's intense heat by her thick fur coat.