OAKMONT (CBS13) – An unusual rescue involving dozens of koi fish during October’s wildfires led to a joyful reunion in time for the holidays.

“I just assumed that they were gone, feared the worst,” said Clyde Lorentzen of Santa Rosa.

Clyde and his wife, Linda, lost everything during the fires — or so they thought.

“I heard about her going through the neighborhood and I said, ‘Kelly is there any way you can get down there and look at my pond and see if the fish are still alive?’” said Clyde.

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He says he made one final attempt to try and save his fish.

Without power, the koi would not have oxygen and die.

Kelly Carroll said it was an unusual request, but because she had access to the blocked roads, she checked without hesitation.

“I mean, a dog, a cat, a horse, but can you help us with your koi fish?” she said.

“She came back and said, ‘they are all alive’ and I said what?!” Clyde exclaimed.

That’s when they called UC Davis and the team made makeshift tanks complete with oxygen to transport the fish. All but one transported made it out alive.

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“It was a big challenge for us to take on these new fish and care for them because they do require a different kind of care,” said Matthew Stone, CABA facility’s assistant manager.

Clyde later received the good news phone call, after losing his house and his landscape he put 50 years into, his fish actually survived.

“How unbelievable that my fish are rescued in Davis California and I almost had tears in my eyes just thinking about it because I knew I couldn’t get there to help them,” he said.

The fish ended up at UC Davis in 6-foot tanks for nearly three months until finally, Clyde was able to find a new home for him and them.

It was time to make the stressful journey once again. The fish were loaded up into transport tanks and driven 80 miles from UC Davis to Santa Rosa.

“Hi I’ve heard a lot about you,” Clyde said as he shook hands of rescuers, researchers, and veterinarians who made the reunion all possible.

UC Davis’ CABA facility had the right filtration tanks and expertise to keep the fish alive.

“Seeing the stress that they were in and now seeing them go home is kind of one of the greatest feelings that you can have,” Stone said.

Clyde said the effort by UC Davis was unbelievable.

“Linda, oh she was just a guardian angel over those fish and took great care of them,” he said. “I can’t wait to help Davis out in any way I can for what they’ve done, they have been so phenomenal.

At 79-years-old, Clyde said he’s happy in their new home in Oakmont and don’t have any plans to rebuild or move back.

“They are going to be happy and I’m going to be happy no question about it. We are all going to be happy,” he said.

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