NAPA COUNTY (CBS13) — An elderly couple died in the home where they recently celebrated 75 years of marriage.
Several Napa County fires are now burning together, threatening thousands of homes and lives. The combined blazes, known as “The Southern LNU fire,” have destroyed 30,000 acres.
Charles and Sara Rippey were trapped in a firestorm inside their home.
“My mother and father, being 100 and 98, were not able to move fast enough to get out,” said Mike Rippey.
The home where they just celebrated 75 years of marriage was up in flames. Charles celebrated his 100th birthday in July.
“They met when they were in grade school. He was in 6th grade. She was in 4th grade,” he said.
Mike Rippey is one of five children. He returned to sift through the rubble: broken China, a patio chair that once overlooked beautiful hills of Napa Valley, and the location where his parents perished.
He says they could tell by where they found his father that he tried to get to his wife’s bedroom but never made it.
“When you have elderly people who are not as mobile, it puts on an additional level of concern,” said Cal Fire Chief David Shew.
Shew says it took less than two hours for the fast-moving flames to take out thousands of acres before torching this Napa retirement community, lush vineyards, and neighborhood after neighborhood.
“I don’t know what to really do from here on out it’s gonna be a day at a time…sometimes an hour at a time, you know? We don’t have a life plan for this,” said Napa Resident Victor Russe.
For Mike, the current plan is to walk away from this with a sense of comfort, knowing his parents were together in the end.
“We often talked among each other about how either one of them would deal with life without the other,” he said.