As California's wine country begins the slow process of rebuilding in the wake of the wildfires that devastated the region in early October, for one family, picking up the pieces will be unthinkably difficult. The Los Angeles Times revisits the Shepherds, a family of four who experienced tragedy in their attempt to flee their Mendocino County home—and then still more tragedy. Kai Shepherd, 14, was found dead by a neighbor some 50 feet from his mother, Sara, and 17-year-old sister, Kressa; both the women were burned over more than 60% of their bodies. Their father, Jon, was found with burns on around 45% of his body. And on Oct. 29, Kressa died in the burn unit of Shriners Hospitals for Children. The Mercury News calls the children the fire's youngest victims. Jon and Sara are unaware they are dead.
The parents are being treated at different hospitals—Sara at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento and Jon at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco—and are expected to survive. But they've been largely sedated, have said only a few words over the last month, and have not been told about their children. Mindi Ramos tells the Times that Sara, her sister, is "forlorn and melancholy ... There is a spot on her forehead that didn’t get burned, and I touch that all the time." The family's hope is that Jon can be moved to Sacramento before his Nov. 13 birthday so the couple of 25 years can deal with their heartache together. The News notes it's not yet known what the couple recall of their attempt to escape, but it has some broad details, reporting the family had gone to sleep and only realized after midnight the fire was coming toward them. (Read more wildfires stories.)