CALISTOGA (CBS) — When the Tubbs Fire exploded outside Calistoga, it raced over a nearby ridge and into the Franz Valley. Within minutes, it was bearing down on Mayacamas Ranch, a 250-acre resort and retreat center on Mountain Home Ranch Road.
David Levy, the resort’s owner, realized they had no time to spare, and had to evacuate the ranch.
His longtime chef and ranch hand, Miguel Islas, ran door to door, going from cabin to cabin, telling the 18 guests on the property to get out. While others were leaving, Islas rushed to the pool to make sure no one was there, then checked all the cabins again to make sure no one was left behind, like a pilot on a downed airliner.
By then, it was almost too late for Islas to get out safely himself.
He drove through a wall of fire, as the ranch was consumed by the flames behind him. Islas says the wind, and the force of the fire, were so strong, it felt like someone was pushing him from behind. His car windows were so hot, he thought his car would explode.
Islas had lived and worked at Mayacamas for 15 years. He kept his life savings of $16,000 in cash, in his room. He was celebrated not just for his giving spirit, but for his amazing cooking, whipping up gourmet meals for the thousands of Bay Area artists, writers, yoga practitioners and others who have been going to the ranch for years.
Now, he’s lost everything.