When the Weaver family woke up to flames outside their Santa Rosa home — a region ravaged this week by deadly wildfires — there wasn’t much time.
They had to get out.
But sometime during that panicked retreat from the house on Wikiup Bridge Way, the family dog, Izzy, bolted away.
Trying to find her amid the chaos of fire proved too dangerous.
And so this family, like countless others in California’s wine country, left more than just their home behind. When they drove through sheer walls of flame and across an uncertain wooden bridge to get to safety — they left their hearts back on Wikiup Bridge Way.
It turned out, it was the one thing they couldn't leave behind.
A day and a half later, while the area was still smoldering and roads were still closed, Jack Weaver and Patrick Widen made the nearly-three-mile trek back to the house.
"It was incredibly important," Weaver, who grew up in that house, tells MNN. "My mother was a wreck for having gone through that. Nobody wanted us to go back because they were worried we would get injured."
'I can see ...'
In a video of their return, posted on Facebook and shared below, you can hear the men laboring to catch their breath amid blackened trees and still-crackling ruins.
“Izzy!” Weaver is heard calling into the smoky veil. Over and over again.
They push farther and farther ahead. “Izzy!"
“Almost to the house," Weaver says in the video. "I can see … the gate. The gate’s still standing.”
A moment later, he adds, “I don’t see the house at all. F$#k.”
It had burned to the ground.
But someone was still standing.
“Izzy’s here!” Weaver calls, his voice choked with emotion. “Izzy!”
“Oh my God! Come here, baby!”
The giant dog bounces into view, her tail whirring like a helicopter.
"When she same running around — you can probably hear it in my voice — we were shocked and ecstatic," Weaver says later. "I wish I could have filmed longer, the happy reunion, but I was so happy I dropped my phone."
Since the family posted the video, it’s been shared more than 4,000 times. Maybe it’s a testament to the need for all of us to find a happy ending amid heartache.
In any case, Izzy is where she belongs now — in the arms of her family — a testament to faith under fire.
"She didn't have a burn on her," Weaver says. "It definitely lifted my family's spirits."
Watch the full video below: