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Cat burned in Santa Rosa firestorm rescued days later from storm drain

Marin Humane animal service officers Chelsea Hayes, left, and Rachel Dalton carry a badly burned cat rescued from a storm drain near Wedgewood Way in Santa Rosa's fire-ravaged Fountaingrove neighborhood on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017. (KEVIN McCALLUM / Press Democrat)

KEVIN MCCALLUM,

A cat’s anguished cries led firefighters to a storm drain in Santa Rosa’s devastated Fountaingrove neighborhood, where the badly burned feline was rescued Friday afternoon five days after an inferno leveled the area.

Two Marin Humane animal service officers plucked the crying cat from the dark drain and whisked it off for treatment at a local veterinary hospital.

“We’re extremely proud of them and we feel honored that Sonoma County called on us to come up and help,” said Lisa Bloch, spokeswoman for the Novato-based nonprofit.

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Marin Humane has provided three animal service officers to support Sonoma County’s effort to locate, rescue and care for animals affected by the wildfires, which have killed 19 people and caused $1.2 billion in damage in Sonoma County alone.

Firefighters heard the frightened feline’s meows coming from a storm drain on Wedgewood Way, not far from the site of what had been the city’s newest fire station. There is not a home standing in the area.

Animal service officers Rachel Dalton and Chelsea Hayes responded around 3 p.m. and dropped a ladder about 8 feet into a storm drain beneath the sidewalk. Hayes, who is strong but slight, shimmied down into the narrow cavern with a flashlight and small blue pet carrier.

Dalton handed down some food and Hayes was able to coax the injured animal into the crate. Talking to it gently, the officers attached a rope to the cage and hauled the cat up out of the storm drain to safety.

“It’s bad,” said Dalton of the cat’s burns.

The pair called a supervisor who advised them to bring the cat to a local vet for immediate treatment.

Dehydrated and hungry, the cat was taken to Sonoma County Animal Services for treatment, Bloch said. It will be checked for a tracking chip to see if its owner can be identified.

When the fires hit earlier this week, Marin Humane made room for displaced pets by transferring all of the animals at its shelter to other locations, Bloch said.

To date it has housed 380 pets of evacuees, including dogs, cats, birds, tortoises, and chickens, for free, she said. Some evacuees have been reunited with their animals, she said.

“Pets are like family, and for people who lose everything, to be reunited with their pets or to know that their pets are safe, can make all the difference,” Bloch said.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 707-521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @srcitybeat.