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Residents Comb the Ashes After Fire

September 28, 1999

HAPPY VALLEY, Calif. (AP) _ David Redlich and his two sons had turned down an invitation for a Sunday outing to an amusement park, a decision that probably saved the lives of Faith and Bud, their dogs, and pet rat Charity.

When a sudden fire caused by sparks from a dragging trailer ramp blew through their semirural Happy Valley neighborhood, Redlich was able to bring the animals along to safety.

His mobile home and his mother’s behind it were destroyed Sunday along with 37 others when gusting winds pushed the fire through the community of modest houses, ranchettes and mobile homes. Flames also scorched 2,000 acres and leveled at least 43 outbuildings.

The fire was started by sparks from a loading ramp on a trailer being pulled by a pickup truck, said Kevin Colburn, a California Department of Forestry spokesman. The sparks caused several fires that combined.

The fire was contained early Monday, and residents were allowed back to salvage valuables. Redlich and Rachael Hanks used a rake, its wooden handle burned off, in an unsuccessful search for her jewelry box.

Hanks and her son had gone to the amusement park on Sunday. She was thankful Redlich had saved their pets.

``He was here to get the dogs out,″ she said. Had Redlich been gone, ``we would have really lost something.″

Redlich found a charred shotgun his late father left him, and retrieved his wife’s wedding ring in the ashes of what used to be the bathroom. She and the couple’s daughter were in Pennsylvania visiting relatives Sunday.

In the Trinity Alps Wilderness north of Redding, firefighters reported progress against two lightning-triggered wildfires that have burned more than 65,300 acres.

On the central California coast, fires have burned more than 46,000 acres. High temperatures on Monday and Big Sur’s steep slopes made firefighting difficult, spokesman Mark Savage said.

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