SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CBS13) – A Redwood Valley family is fighting for their lives after getting caught in a fire in Mendocino County.
“Their home is gone, their son is gone, the life that they knew is gone,” said Mindi Ramos, whose sister Sara Shepherd was injured in the flames.
The Redwood Valley Fire took the Shepherd family by surprise early Monday morning. They tried to escape but the flames were too quick.
“We had no thought in our minds that they would be hurt by this fire. We thought they were just coming down the mountain,” Ramos said. “I wish I’d hugged them a lot more times.”
The Shepherd family of four spent the last two years living in their dream home in Redwood Valley. Janice and Simon Ramos got a call at 1 a.m. from their daughter Sara Shepherd saying the fire was nearby and they were about to evacuate.
“They thought they had plenty of time to get down and we were simply waiting to hear from them,” Ramos said.
But Ramos says the family never got a second call. Four hours after Sara called her family, a neighbor named Paul Hanson found the mother of two and her 17-year-old daughter Kressa Shepherd in the driveway, incoherent and barely conscious.
“Both she and my sister have burns on 60% of their body,” Ramos said.
And 30 feet away, Hanson found 14-year-old Kai Shepherd lifeless on the ground.
“When I got the call about Kai I — I couldn’t stand,” Ramos said. “I fell to my knees. I just said ‘Oh no, Oh no!’”
Ramos found out later that Sara and her husband Jon were driving away with the kids when both of their cars caught on fire. They jumped out, scattered and lost sight of one another.
Jon is still sedated in a San Francisco hospital.
And in an attempt to save her life, Kressa lost both of her legs in surgery.
Ramos says she’s not ready to tell her big sister Sara that her baby boy didn’t survive.
“I can’t imagine waking up to worse news than my sister is going to wake up to,” she told CBS13.
Ramos is blown away by the support from her community so far, but knows the Shepherds’ fight for survival is far from over.
“I have my life and I have my family and so all I can do right now is use all of the strength and all that I’ve been through up until this moment to be here for my family,” Ramos said.
Right now, the family’s top priority is helping the Shepherds recover. Mindi and Sara’s parents lost their family business in the fire too, So everyone’s focus is trying to raise enough money to care for Jon, Sara and Kressa. And when the time comes, they’ll plan a memorial service for 14-year-old Kai.