Friends, family and neighbors worked through 60 to 70 mph winds on Wednesday morning, as ash and debris blew through the air, searching for Casey, Sam Hull’s missing dog.
Casey, a 10-year-old Queensland heeler, was lost during the Tick Fire that burned down Hull’s family home.
“We’re here to find Casey, one way or the other … to get some kind of closure,” Hull’s mother Alejandra Corrales said.
For the past three years, the family had been renting a property on Sand Canyon Road, which was home to the numerous animals they had rescued, including dogs, cats, bunnies, a tortoise, birds, sheep, pigs and even a peacock, among others.
“Every single one of them was a rescue or from a family that couldn’t keep them any longer so they needed a home,” Corrales added.
When the fire broke out and Hull found out how close it was to her home, she immediately left work.
“She flew across town and she got here as soon as she could … but by the time she got here and started letting (the animals) out … (the fire) was literally already over the ridge and coming up the sides of the plateau,” Corrales said. “Even when you have evacuation plans and you have crates set out and you have everything ready, sometimes there’s not enough time.”
Minutes later, the flames had begun circling the house, which sat atop the hill. “She literally had to drive through flames to get out.”
Hull hadn’t gotten enough time to let everyone out, and the family’s dogs, Benji and Casey, were in the enclosed patio near the house.
“Casey would jump on top of the pump and jump out all the time, whenever she wanted to,” Corrales said.
“If she wanted to get out, she could get out,” Hull added. “She did it for fun, often.”
That wasn’t the case for the family’s other dog Benji, though, and they found his remains in the patio.
When Corrales was able to get back to the area, she watched as a helicopter doused the fire on the nearby hills from a safe distance.
“The fire was out, and then an hour later the house caught fire,” she said, adding that the rubble was still burning when she was allowed up to the house that evening. “When I drove up, (the potbellied pigs) heard me and they came running out of I don’t know where — they were so scared.”
Before leaving, Hull was able to open up the doors to the birds’ pens, and when Corrales returned, they were all in their coops going to bed.
Pinnacle Veterinary Center stepped up to help, even though they don’t typically work with livestock, also referring the family to North Valley Veterinary Center in Lancaster, which was able to help treat the animals.
“There’s not really anything salvageable,” Marissa Hull, Sam’s sister, said regarding the pile of rubble that once was the family’s home.
The only thing they were able to recover was some of Corrales’ mother’s ashes.
“Aside from losing some of our animals, the fact that my mom’s ashes were in the house was the worst part,” Corrales said. “We were able to find some though, so that was a little glimmer of hope.”
For Sam, the main priority remains to find Casey.
“All this stuff is whatever, but if Casey’s home, that’s really all I care about,” Sam said. “She’s extremely intelligent. My concern is how dry it is and how long she could live without water.”
They’ve hiked every canyon in the 20 acres of open space around the house, and have found no remains or tracks, according to Sam.
“Casey is probably really scared, so if anyone sees her, don’t try to catch her or call to her, instead just call us,” Marissa added.
Casey is primarily black in color with white speckles.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Sam Hull at 661-349-0308. To donate to the family, visit bit.ly/CorralesHull.