January/February 2019

Page 78


“I would just see orange” Lawrence Whalen fought flames for hours to save his West Malibu home. Looking at his Apple watch afterwards, it said he’d run sixty miles.


ut of nowhere huge flames came straight down the hill towards our house, taking out everything in sight. We immediately started to do what we could to prepare to fight the fire to save our house and our neighbors, grabbing shovels and connecting hoses. Our neighbors’ entire deck caught light as well as the trees. It turned into a full on mission of doing what we could to save our home and our

neighbors. We had to connect hoses from our neighbors to get enough water pressure. The pine trees were catching on fire and we had no water pressure so I was climbing trees to try and get the flames out. Our neighbor’s storage unit caught fire, which was full of old newspaper and furniture. We ended up having to connect hoses over 100 ft. as flames were coming up on the left side and right side of the house. We were able to get the container under control, using shovels to put out ashes that were falling on the house, but

everything was still lightly smoking here and there. When we thought we had control, the neighbors roof caught on fire and we had no water pressure at all. We were grabbing buckets of water to try and put out the fires. I looked to my Apple watch at one point and it said I had covered sixty miles running up and down the hill while fighting the fire. We were fighting the fire until two in the morning. When I closed my eyes to try to go to sleep, I would just see orange. It was a really strange experiMM ence.


“I kept hope alive.” For three weeks, Marybeth Massett left food and water out for her cat, Java, at her burned out home. Miraculously, one night he returned.


felt that Java had survived somehow. Or at least I kept the hope alive in my heart. And every few days I’d make it back to Harvester rd. and replenish the food and water and call for him. He never came. Then I realized that I hadn’t gone up to the house at night. It was our routine, I’d call for him to come in every night for the last 11 years. “Come and get your dinner!” And he knew he needed to come inside as the wild packs of coyotes would howl through the neighborhood. So I drove up there at night with my sweet sister Barbara. It was different seeing my


burned out home at night. Over the last three weeks I’ve seen it many times and I’ve gotten used to what it looks like during the day. But it was dark and the silhouette our beautiful home cast laying on its side gave me pause. Home is where your heart is. I’ve really learned this the last few weeks. Where your family is. And Java is my family. I was putting my boots on I started calling for Java. ‘Come and get your dinner! Java!’ and then we heard a little meow! My sister and I looked at each other like ‘oh my god this can’t be real!’ I called again and sure enough he answered ‘meow

meow meow!’ I held the lantern up in front of me and crossed over to the back of the property and that’s when I saw him - my beautiful Java! He was coming down the stairs towards me just like he had for the last 11 years coming to get his dinner. He was dirty and beautiful! And I held him tight, he started purring and I told him that everything was ok and we were going to our new house. I brought him in my car with my sister and he sat on my lap and we laughed and cried and it was the most sacred sweet thing I have experienced in many many years. My family is together now. We are all ok. MM


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