California’s largest wildfire ever is tearing through the northern part of the state, and leaving a trail of destruction wherever it goes.
Already, thousands of people have been evacuated from homes in the fire’s path, the local school district has delayed the school year, and the fire has been ruled a major disaster by President Trump.
So Jeff and Susan Grant feared the worst after being evacuated from their home in Shasta, California.
But instead, they returned home to an incredible surprise, and now their story is going viral.
The Grants had spent 10 agonizing days in a nearby hotel, fretting the entire time that their home would be destroyed by the fires that have already scorched hundreds of square miles.
So when a neighbor snuck back into the evacuation zone to check on their property, Jeff asked him to send a few photos of their house.
But the couple were stunned by what they saw in those pictures.
“I kind of got goosebumps and I’m shaky because I didn’t believe there would be this much greenery left,” Jeff said about their first glimpse.
Not only was the house intact, but their garden was too. It was a total mystery how their property had been so perfectly preserved.
Then, the Grants spotted a note on their front door.
“I could not figure out your drip system,” it began, revealing someone had been tending their garden during the evacuation.
“I have watered your flowers and garden a couple day [sic]. Hope they make it. The baby turkeys are cute.
-Firefighter Ray B.”
True to his word, when the Grants finally returned home last week they could see Ray had kept their garden in great shape.
Plump tomatoes were growing on their vines, and the baby turkeys were happy and safe.
Overwhelmed by the act of kindness, the Grants shared their story online and in local news, hoping to track down Ray B.
“If you see this broadcast, and can get hold of us somehow or we can get hold of you somehow, I just want to give you a great big hug,” Jeff told KRCR.
“God bless them all and stay safe,” Susan added for the firefighters working round-the-clock to protect the rest of the state.
The mysterious note, and the feel-good story behind it, were shared more than 6,000 times before the good Samaritan finally stepped forward.
On Tuesday, the Grants were finally able to thank their hero face to face, meeting Red Bluff Fire Chief Ray Barber.
“We were able to locate Ray, the hero who saved our little baby turkeys and kept our garden watered during the fire,” said Jeff.
But the humble hero says his good deed was no big deal.
Barber remember noticing a “really awesome garden” while tending to hot spot fires near the Grants’ property.
“I thought ‘well, this thing hasn’t had water in awhile’ so I watered the garden,” he explained.
“We were still here that evening so I came back and watered it. And before we left the next day, I watered it again, just to make sure that people had, you know, a garden to come home to.”
It was a small gesture, but it meant everything to the homesick Grants – and their sweet baby turkeys.
“We’ve just got to thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” Jeff told Barber. “Everybody that’s going through this evacuation of this fire, it’s because of you guys helping us.”
Barber was happy to meet the Grants too, since it’s so unusual for a firefighter to return to the scene like this.
“I was kind of like ‘well we’re all together and we do what we do and we leave and we go to the next home,'” he explained.
“But being able to come back and see the folks that you helped and you talk to them and see the impact that you’ve made, it’s touching.”