Joy amid the ashes |

Joy amid the ashes

Pat McCartney

Steve, Jean and Connor Yingling pose with Kit Cat. / Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Tahoe Daily Tribune sports editor Steve Yingling lost his home on the first day of the Angora fire.

He felt fortunate that his sons, 14-year-old Conner and 15-year-old Jordan, were able to pack a few prized possessions before fleeing Sunday as the wildfire approached their Cone Road residence.

But as the boys left their South Lake Tahoe home, the family’s elderly cat, Kit Cat, bolted out the front door and darted away.

The black cat had been part of the Yingling family since the boys were toddlers, surviving more than a dozen years in an area where coyotes and owls often prey on domestic pets.

“She was scared,” Yingling said on Wednesday. “We felt bad that we left her behind.”

Returning to the gutted residence Tuesday, Yingling said his hopes were raised by the survival of a home at the nearby corner of Cone and Boulder Mountain. All six homes on Cone were destroyed.

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“Then I heard a noise at the base of the chimney, where a metal damper is,” Yingling said. “She stuck her nose out. She looked like she was dazed from smoke inhalation.”

Kit Cat was frisky enough to come out of her hiding place and approach the Yinglings. Her paws were burned, but apart from that, the 15-year-old feline seemed little worse for the wear. Yingling figured the cat sought refuge at the uncharred home on the corner.

“She’s a survivor,” Yingling said.