Read a Thursday night update on Odin here.
With flames encroaching on their property, a Santa Rosa man and his family had only minutes to evacuate. But they had plenty of animals to get to safety, too, one of which refused to leave others behind.
Roland Tembo Hendel and his family had to flee as their property sits near Mark West Springs Road, an area highly impacted by the Tubbs Fire.
Santa Rosa ordered mandatory evacuations of residents in affected areas at 10 a.m. Oct. 9.
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“It was about 10:30 when we first smelled smoke from the approaching Tubbs fire that has ravaged Northern California,” Hendel says in his account on Facebook. “I ran up and down our roads on the ATV, but saw nothing. At 10:55 I could see the sky turning orange. ...
“By 11:10 we could see the first of the flames across the valley. By 11:15 they were growing larger and the winds went mad.”
The family had to quickly load up as many animals as possible, including dogs and cats, but their great Pyrenees Odin refused to join them if it meant leaving the family’s eight bottle-fed rescue goats behind.
“I made a decision to leave him, and I doubt I could have made him come with us if I tried,” Hendel says. “We got out with our lives and what was in our pockets.”
He described cars behind theirs pouring flames out of the windows in an attempt to outrun the fire.
“When we had found relative safety we cried for Odin and our goats,” Hendel says on the family’s YouCaring page. “I was sure I had sentenced them to a horrific and agonizing death.”
Days later, the family was able to return to the property to see what remained.
To their disbelief, Odin – burned and battered but still alive – was there surrounded by the goats and small deer. It appeared that even the deer had sought him out for safety.
The goats came running up to the family for cuddles and kisses in the touching reunion.
The family’s pump house was destroyed, leaving them without fresh water. And all of the structures on the property were “decimated.”
The story has touched so many people that the family’s YouCaring campaign has already surpassed its goal of $45,000.
The family says Odin lived up to his namesake – a Norse god.
“He is our inspiration,” says Hendel.
“Even now as i write this, I am crying tears of gratitude and awe at his bravery and devotion.”