The North Bay wildfires destruction spread far and wide, destroying more than 5,000 structures in the process, one of which belonged to professional cyclist Levi Leipheimer and his ex-wife, Odessa Gunn, located in Santa Rosa.
Before she knew about the fires, Gunn sensed trouble when she noticed a mountain lion leap out in front of her car as she approached the home she lives in with her boyfriend in Forestville. “I’ve been here awhile and I never once saw a mountain lion, so it was really ominous. I thought, something is going wrong,” Gunn told The Cape Breton Post.
Later, she learned that the Santa Rosa house she and Leiheimer were selling had been destroyed in the Tubbs fire.
"So sad to say goodbye to the best home I've ever lived in," she wrote in an Instagram post. "I rescued many animals here. Broken hearted."
Leipheimer shared his own post on Instagram, saying "I lost my house but not my home here in Sonoma County. We WILL make it through this."
Gunn, an animal rights activist, had 11 dogs at her home in Forestville — eight of her own and three foster dogs. After losing the Santa Rosa house, Gunn was again forced to evacuate with her 11 dogs, this time from where she was living in Forestville.
“I have such intense mixed emotions. For like four days here it felt like the apocalypse, so many acres of land were burning that they had to shut down power everywhere, so if you drove in your car it would be snowing ashes,” Gunn told the Sydney newspaper.
In addition to saving her own animals, Gunn and her boyfriend were able to save the lives of several farm animals, including 15 chickens that belong to a friend.
“The hardest part of all of this for me is that my two very best friends in town, their homes burned,” Gunn told the newspaper. “It’s hard because life before the fire and life after the fire are going to be completely different — it’s like a whole new world now.”
Read all of the PD's fire coverage here