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Early on in the rage of Mendocino County’s Ranch fire, Honalee Newman feared it would kill her, two of her three children and the child of a friend.

A medical imaging manager in Ukiah, Newman was driving with her two sons and daughter on Highway 20 Sunday near the J Bar S buffalo ranch. She pulled over just after flames jumped the highway.

Quickly, fire approached the car. Newman and the kids couldn’t see anything through the thick smoke. Terror set in.

Then there was tapping on the driver’s-side window. Newman and the children saw it was a Caltrans worker.

“Follow me!” he shouted.

He was Mike Quinliven, supervisor of a Caltrans tree crew.

He’d been driving on Highway 20 near the buffalo ranch when the smoke grew so blinding he had to pull over. He called the CHP and urged that the highway, then lined along both edges by fire, be closed.

Driving carefully through the smoke, Quinliven came upon a gasoline tanker, pulled in front of it and guided it out of the immediate fire zone.

CHP officers hadn’t yet arrived to close the highway, so Quinliven drove back toward the flames to check for other motorists in peril. And he spotted the Newman family car.

Intense heat bore down on him as ran to the car and shouted to the driver to follow him. The escape was slow going because he and Newman could barely see the road.

But they made it out.

AS FOR THE ANIMALS: Veterans of the valiant quest to find pets scattered by the October fires and return them to their families are gearing up to do the same for animals fleeing the Carr and Mendocino Complex fires.

Volunteers with Sonoma & Napa Fire Pet Rescue and Reunification want to spread the word that they’ve launched Facebook pages where lost pets can be posted and rescue efforts coordinated.

Members of the Sonoma team need help from locals in the new fire areas to set up feed stations and learn how to trap.

The site for Mendocino-Lake pet owners is here.

And for the Carr fire, click here.

Once the embers cool, the search for scattered pets begins.

AERIAL PHOTOS of Santa Rosa neighborhoods vaporized by the Tubbs fire illustrate “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change,” a powerful and unusual special issue of the New York Times Magazine.

The entire issue consists of an article by novelist and essayist Nathaniel Rich. His point: Between 1979 and ‘89 humanity had a chance to save the planet from climate change, but blew it.

Accompanying the piece are photos and videos by George Steinmetz. Among the images illustrating the catastrophic effects of global warming are some Steinmetz shot over the remains of Coffey Park and other Santa Rosa neighborhoods.

Rich writes, “It is true that much of the damage that might have been avoided is now inevitable.” He allows a glimmer of optimism.

“Human nature has brought us to this place; perhaps human nature will one day bring us through. Rational argument has failed in a rout. Let irrational optimism have a turn. It is also human nature, after all, to hope.”

Chris Smith is at 707 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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