A cat named Ruthie Rosemary nearly used one of her nine lives recently when she escaped from a lightning-sparked forest fire in Northern California.
Debi and Jeff Brusatori thought their calico tabby had perished in the 22,312-acre wildfire that destroyed their home.
As sweeping flames moved close to their Hayfork home, the couple were forced to flee in their car loaded with belongings and their beloved Ruthie Rosemary, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
But the cat, which is 3 to 4 years old, jumped out and the Brusatoris had to leave her behind as the flames drew closer, the forest service said.
Five days later, the couple returned to find their Trinity County home in ruins. They thought Ruthie Rosemary hadn't made it.
But then they heard a "meow" near a badly burned truck. As the couple searched for the familiar sound, they found their precious pet hiding under the truck.
Shasta-Trinity National Forest officials said the blaze was "so intense that aluminum parts of the vehicles melted."
Miraculously, the tabby was unharmed, except that its whiskers and eyebrows were singed by flames.
The blaze, sparked by lightning, started at 10:30 p.m. Thursday. More than 900 lightning strikes hit Northern California that day.
More than 40 fires comprise the Fork Complex fire, which is burning on the Hayfork Ranger District more than 60 miles west of Redding. It's 19% contained.