The California wildfires have left tragic skeletal remains in their wake. As the fires continue to rip through residential areas, domestic lives are uprooted as families are forced to flee their homes.
It happens in a flash, and those affected have very little time to grab precious items before making a run for it.
But when Natasha Wallace was forced to face the advancing flames, she had a greater purpose in mind. She had a life to save at home, and as the fires quickly closed in, every minute was precious.
She was on her way home from school in October when she realized her Coffey Park neighborhood in Santa Rosa, California, was under siege by the windswept flames.
Natasha Wallace was on her way home when she saw a wildfire closing in on her neighborhood.
It was from an elevated expressway that Wallace was able to grasp the gravity of the destruction.
“Everything was gray, everything was destroyed and it went for miles,” Wallace told FOX 40.
Once she got back to her house, she didn’t bother reaching for expensive gadgets or electronics. She was only concerned with saving her dog, Bentley. She quickly found the dog, grabbed him, put him in her Honda, and tore off down the road.
They hit traffic almost immediately. In total gridlock, Wallace tried to turn back and find a different way out.
However, her only option was her bicycle, and taking Bentley on a bike presented several challenges.
Bentley weighs over 70 pounds and pedaling a bike while holding him seemed impossible.
Wallace decided that the best way to move him would be to put him in a duffle bag and sling it around her back.
“So I grabbed my dog and I told him, ‘Hey man, this is serious, you need to just sit in the bag.’ And he hopped right in,” Wallace said. The pair were zipping through traffic in no time.
Fortunately, Wallace is in good physical condition, because she ended up having to bike several miles with Bentley on her back. It wasn’t until a man named Paul Johnson pulled his pickup truck over and gave her a ride that she got a rest.
Wallace never thought twice about saving her dog, Bentley. She says it was “ride or die, literally.”
Wallace realizes how lucky she is to have been able to save herself and Bentley from the flames. When she returned to her home a few days later, she found nothing but ashes. Homes, cars, playgrounds, everything was burnt to bits.
“You don’t even see a resemblance of what it used to be,” she said.
But still, she is celebrating life. “I’m just so grateful,” she says.
She and Bentley both survived, and to Wallace, that’s what matters most. The unstoppable duo will now go about putting their life back together. But as long as they have each other, they’ll be just fine.
Natasha Wallace has started a GoFundMe page to help her and Bentley can get back on their feet.