Cazadero rallying to help couple burned out by fire

A fire that burned an 1890s Cazadero hunting cabin to the ground Sunday destroyed a young couple's home and all of their belongings, friends and fire officials said Monday.

Friends of Ben Radtkey, 23, and Elisa Hellenthal, 26, in the tight-knit Cazadero community are planning to organize help for the couple.

"It's absolutely heartbreaking. We're trying to put together some benefit for them," Cazadero resident and friend Iris Gradunov said. "It's devastating to the family and to the community."

"The community is definitely going to rally together. We take care of each other," said Stephan Mercieca, a volunteer captain with the Cazadero Fire Department who grew up with Radtkey and attended El Molino High School with him.

The cabin, on remote King Ridge Road, was owned by Radtkey's mother, Dana Radtkey.

She and her son are members of the prominent Parmeter ranching and logging family of Cazadero. The property in the rugged hills between Cazadero and the Pacific Ocean has been in the family for generations.

Ben Ratkey also is a volunteer Cazadero firefighter and works for Parmeter Logging and Excavation.

Hellenthal works in the family Hellenthal Vineyards, Gradunov said.

Family members told firefighters the old cabin was the original structure on the property.

The fire started in the attic of the 800-square-foot wooden home, sparked possibly by a malfunctioning wood stove, said Gina Petersen, a captain with Sonoma County Fire.

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