LNU Complex

Lake Berryessa Couple Recovers After Narrowly Escaping LNU Complex Fire

NBC Universal, Inc.

A Napa County couple is recovering in the hospital with major burns Monday after narrowly escaping the LNU Lightning Complex Fire.

After failing to outrun the fire, the woman tried to hide from it as her boyfriend literally crawled for help.  

“It was like a nightmare, like a dream,” said Shirl Katleba, who still can’t believe what her son Jim Robinson and his girlfriend Karen Fiscus endured when the LNU Complex Fire arrived on their Lake Berryessa property.

“They stayed a little longer than they should have,” she said. “They were trying to protect the animals.”

The pair didn’t have a working car so they tried driving out on their ATV but it broke down. Already suffering burns, Fiscus couldn’t walk and her boyfriend had her seek shelter in a steel culvert.

“He put her inside a big culvert to protect her from the fire,” said Katleba.

Robinson then walked and crawled nearly a mile to the end of his driveway where a Rio Vista Fire crew spotted his flashlight.

“We both spotted the gentleman over by the mailboxes,” said Rio Vista Fire Battalion Chief Adrian Hairston. “We definitely knew based on his condition we had to get him help right away.”

Katleba said they told her son to get in the car and go but he said he wasn’t leaving without his girlfriend.

It took firefighters nearly an hour but they finally found Fiscus in the culvert with fire still burning all around. Their family is so grateful.

“They’re guardian angels. I don’t know how they made it in, I don’t know how they made it out,” said Katleba.

The pair suffered major burns and have both undergone skin graft surgery. Robinson still can’t talk and his girlfriend remains in critical condition.

His mom says she hopes others learn from the couples close call.

“We all say it’s not going to get us,” she said. “You can buy new things but you can’t buy a new person when they say go, go.”

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