SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KTVU) - One family who thought they lost everything in the North Bay fires has received some good news.
Their cat disappeared in the wake of the devastation, but now Thomas 'The Miracle' cat is back, but not before being mistaken for dead and a pet funeral.
"It's a miracle...it's life changing. It really changed the whole dynamic of our recovery," said Dani Stockham, the lucky cat's owner.
On October 9, the Stockham residence in Santa Rosa's Fountain Grove neighborhood was destroyed in the fires. When the family fled, Thomas was left behind. Three days later, a cat's remains was found on the porch where Thomas's outdoor bed was. Devastated, the Stockham's said their goodbyes.
"I got him when I was 2 [years old] and he was like my first animal. Realizing that he was gone was terrible," said Lea Stockham.
But nearly seven weeks later, an email arrived from San Francisco Park Ranger Shannon Jay.
"When my parents said we got the email, I started crying because I was like, 'No way. This can't be happening,'" Lea said.
"So I set a trap," said Jay. He had spent the last seven weeks trapping lost cats in the fire zone. He captured a stray just a few short blocks from the Stockham's old home.
That cat had a micro chip and after he scanned it, what do you know, it was Thomas.
"I didn't believe it till I saw him and saw him like meowing and purring. He knew it was me! It was amazing I was so happy," Lea said.
"The idea that they're out there and people are grieving and lost everything...to just bring that little beacon back to them, to just see how happy they are, its overwhelming," said Jay.
After 45 days on the run, Thomas was tired, thinner and hungry, but still feisty. His return has given this family renewed hope and they are thankful for something they did many years back.
"Thank god for the microchip. It's such a simple thing," said Dani. "You just don't think its going to happen, but he wouldn't have been chipped, they wouldn't have contacted us and I don't think we ever would have found him."