Search for mother trapped in fires ends in heartbreakOctober 12, 2017 7:26am

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — Jessica Tunis screamed at her mother to run out of the burning house but Linda Tunis said she was trapped, there was fire everywhere, and the last thing she said to her daughter was that she was going die before the call dropped.

The younger Tunis immediately called 911 early Monday, but didn't know if they rescued her 69-year-old mom before her house was leveled in wildfires that swept Northern California's wine country.

She turned to social media, along with hundreds of others looking for loved ones. She posted a picture of her mother smiling at a café with the caption, "Does anyone know if Journey's End Mobile Home Park got evacuated before it burned down? I can't find my mom, Linda Tunis."

The post spawned more than 100 comments, largely from strangers who offered encouragement and tips, she told an AP reporter Tuesday night. Some even went to shelters to search for the woman who loved bingo and the beach.

"I've had people going to shelters for me because of Facebook," Tunis said. "It does help. For sure. Anything helps."

As of Wednesday, 22 wildfires were burning in Northern California, up from 17 the day before. The blazes killed at least 21 people and destroyed an estimated 3,500 homes and businesses, many of them in California's wine country.

Sonoma County authorities said they didn't have the resources to look for missing people with fires spreading and more evacuations.

Jessica Tunis hoped desperately that her mother was somewhere safe, unable to tell people who she was. The family continued calling hospitals seeking Jane Does and hitting up evacuation centers.

On Wednesday, her brother Robert Tunis picked through the debris where his mother's house once stood, searching for clues to what happened to her.

"She's spunky, she's sweet, she loves bingo and she loves the beach, she loves her family," said Jessica Tunis on Wednesday, crying. "Please help me find her. I need her back. I don't want to lose my mom."

Hours later Tunis texted an AP reporter to say her brother had found their mother's remains among the debris. Authorities put the remains of the 69-year-old woman in a small white plastic bag and strapped it to a gurney before taking it away.

Jessica Tunis didn't forget to update her friends on Facebook:

"My mother's remains have been found at her home at Journey's End. May she rest in peace, my sweet Momma."

Page 1 of 1

More Stories Like This

A statue of Snoopy greats hockey families to Snoopy's Home Ice in Santa Rosa, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017. The annual hockey tournament for 7- and 8-year-olds was held as scheduled Sunday in the rink financed by Peanuts creator Charles Schultz, a Santa Rosa native and hockey fan. (AP Photo/Paul Elias)
Fire-ravaged California city turns to hockey for respite
Joyce Farinato, a pastor and artist who lost her Glen Ellen, Calif., home in recent wildfires, stands in the ruins Monday, Oct. 23, 2017, and shows a mask she found in the debris, one of her few surviving possessions. Farinato said she wants to follow the environmental rules on cleaning burned sites but needs to know what they are. (AP Photo/Ellen Knickmeyer)
California launching fire clean-up 'for the record books'
FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2017 file photo, a row of chimneys stand in a neighborhood devastated by a wildfire near Santa Rosa, Calif. CalFire spokesman Daniel Berlant said Monday, Oct. 23, 2017, the estimate of homes and structures destroyed was boosted from 6,900 late last week to 8,400 as officials neared completion of their damage assessment. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
The Latest: California prepares to clean up wildfire waste
FILE - In this Oct. 11, 2017 file photo, a Pacific Gas & Electric crew works at restoring power along the Old Redwood Highway in Santa Rosa, Calif. A report says California utilities have delayed efforts for nearly a decade to map where power lines pose the greatest wildfire risk. The report Sunday, Oct. 22, in The Mercury News comes as the state investigates whether downed power lines owned by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. sparked the deadliest wildfires in California history. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
Utilities delayed effort to map power line risk to wildfires
Wildfires in Utah force evacuations, threaten structuresWind-driven wildfires in Utah forced evacuations and threatened structures on a big weekend for deer hunters in the fire zone
Park hikers may have died in 'sympathetic murder-suicide'Friends and relatives of a couple whose bodies were found in Joshua Tree National Park say they believe the two got lost while hiking in the sprawling desert park and struggled in the searing heat before they died in a "sympathetic murder-suicide."
This component is currently unavailable.
AdChoices

Related Searches

Related Searches

AdChoices