Valley Fire evacuee overjoyed to return home, find kittens alive

COBB, Calif. -- As crews continue to battle the fast-moving Valley Fire that has spread to 73,700 acres and is 45 percent contained, some residents are preparing to return home. On Friday, Cal Fire lifted evacuation notices for Twin Lakes and Rancho Sendero in Lake County and road blocks at Murphy Springs Road and Spruce Grove roads came down.

Middletown residents will be allowed to return home on Saturday at noon. Some have been trying to get past the police lines to see if their homes are still standing. It has been six long days and many say they just can't wait any longer.

Our sister station, ABC7 News, was there as one woman returned home to some happy news.

Christine Bartholomew is a substitute teacher who rescues cats. She left her home six days ago. And even though the burn line was right behind her house, she returned to what she calls a miracle.

"I was in shock, I was in shock that our homes were here," she said.

Valley Fire evacuee Christine Bartholomew was excited to return home on Friday, September 18, 2015 and see that the cats she rescues survived the devastating fire in Cobb, Calif.


In the rush, she couldn't find her cats. So she left the door open and hoped for the best.

"It doesn't look like they're dying of thirst," she said.

The flames stopped just in time and all the cats are alive, even the kittens.

Hundreds of residents like Bartholomew are desperate to check on their homes, but many of the roads are still closed.

"There are still crews out there doing that, we're still out, PG&E is still out there stringing line, trying to get all the infrastructure back in so we can get people back in as soon as possible. A lot of work left to be done," Cal Fire spokesperson Kevin Colburn

Hailey Wilson with PG&E says there are 7,000 utility poles in the area. Many need replacing and every one of them needs to be assessed. They are 88 percent done with that task.

"There's a lot of work to be done," she said. "But we are working as safely and quickly as possible."

Back at Bartholomew's home there's a mess. It's been ravaged by raccoons. But the home is still there.

"Just praying for people who are coming home, you know, we're all going to be there for each other," she said.

Bartholomew is a resident of Cobb and says she's looking for anyone who wants to adopt the kittens. Those interested are asked to email, and she'll put you in touch with her.

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