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  • Writer's pictureHeather Ann

News Article: Solano County Woman Loses Animals, Livelihood In LNU Lightning Complex Fires

This article was published for CBS News in 2021.

SOLANO COUNTY (CBS13) - A Solano County woman is left trying to figure out what's next after losing nearly everything, including animals, at her parent's ranch because of the LNU Lightning Complex fires burning near Vacaville.

"We had just built everything back up but then poof – gone," Christa Patrillo Haefner said.

Patrillo Haefner posted an emotional video on Facebook as she returned to her parents' ranch Wednesday morning searching for any of her animals she could save.

"Oh no, oh no, oh no," she repeats in the video while calling out the names of her horses. The flames, she said, were intense.

"The embers were coming in sideways and everything was catching around us," she said. "It came in hot. It came in fast. We tried to fight it, but there was no fighting it."

Patrillo Haefner is no stranger to fire. She said she's encountered fourteen different ones over the last six years. This one was the worst.

"We were just starting to recover from a house fire where we lost all of our personal belongings in 2018, now we lost everything again," Patrillo Haefner said.

She kept her personal belongings and much of her business in a storage container that melted in the blaze. The fire spread across the ranch in minutes.

"COVID affected my business and I was just starting to come back," she said. "Now I have nothing."

Patrillo Haefner raises livestock and is a double trainer. Her animals are her pride and joy, but she knew the inevitable – dozens of them, including horses and baby goats, didn't live.

"There's been a lot of tears. Still a lot of tears," she said.

Though fortunately, some of her animals did. Some of her horses are at a friend's house safe and sound. Goats and pigs she couldn't evacuate were still alive when she returned to the ranch on Thursday in hopes they would be, giving them their first meal since the fire began.

"I did not expect this," she said.

But many others didn't either. The fire came as such a surprise and a shock to those forced to evacuate Wednesday morning, grabbing anything they could before leaving safely.

"I'm just one person out of many," Patrillo Haefner said.

With next to nothing left, she's hoping someway - somehow - she and her family can find a way to rise from the ashes.

One of those first steps is figuring out how to feed the animals that survived. Food she had been stocking up on that was meant to last until March, because of the pandemic, ended up burning in the blaze.

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