They always say that hardship brings out the best in us, and the California wildfires are no exception.
93-year-old World War II veteran Lee Brundige had just fled his home in the devastated town of Paradise, California when he pulled into a parking lot in Oroville where Tracy Grant was handing out hamburgers to evacuees. The Camp Fire, the state's largest and most devastating in history, raged some 11 miles north, and Brundige decided to sleep in his car, despite Grant's protestations.
"I didn't like leaving him there, but he's very independent. So I made sure he had blankets and a pillow," Grant told CNN. "I stayed with him until about midnight."
But the following day, the fire's smoke had spread to Oroville, and the sheriff evacuated the town. So, Grant gave him no choice but to join her.
Before the Camp Fire, Brundige lived alone in the home his late wife had designed. He had no idea the fire was coming, and was asleep when the evacuation began. "He just happened to have his gardener there who started banging on his windows to wake him up," Grant said.
Luckily, Brundige has fit right in with Grant, her boyfriend, Josh Fox, and their two dogs, who have taken quite a liking to him. A video from Inside Edition showed the dogs making themselves right at home with their new house guest.
93-Year-Old WWII Veteran Who Fled California Wildfire 'Adopted' by Kind Couple www.youtube.com
Folks on social media were touched by Grant and Fox's compassion:
@LilyRex There are still good people out there.— Luz Rivera 🇵🇷 (@Luz Rivera 🇵🇷) 1542296337.0
@cnni Doing the right thing. Nice to see. We all have choices, do good, think of others...good for you guys showing… https://t.co/l20JTBVo6Y— Lilac Moon (@Lilac Moon) 1542283787.0
Empathy personified...... Love you guys https://t.co/BfPtHVxPIh— Hakeem Adeshina (@Hakeem Adeshina) 1542283263.0
Love your neighbor as yourself. https://t.co/iZwNz2M4W0— Grace Villarreal, M.D.,FAAP (@Grace Villarreal, M.D.,FAAP) 1542283032.0
@CNN YES! This is what we need to do! Time for some love and kindness in this country✌️— kittymama1218 (@kittymama1218) 1542275126.0
There are a lot of good people in the world. https://t.co/jip3xw3P1a— Matt Mowers (@Matt Mowers) 1542272293.0
What a great story! Bless this couple for their compassion and caring for this man. A California couple 'adopte… https://t.co/rMVq8nfUOL— Heidi 🌴🎶😎🏈🏎🎾 (@Heidi 🌴🎶😎🏈🏎🎾) 1542254420.0
Love stories like this. Much needed to restore my faith in humanity these days. A California couple 'adopted' a… https://t.co/iMjZMAub3S— Country Before Party (@Country Before Party) 1542251748.0
Inspirational! I have room in Colorado if anyone needs a space..... A California couple 'adopted' a 93-year-old vet… https://t.co/3FZ3ZpoqOo— Holiday@happy (@Holiday@happy) 1542250815.0
Fantastic people. Need more like this. A California couple 'adopted' a 93-year-old veteran after his town burn… https://t.co/osb48Pv27H— Toni Warmuth (@Toni Warmuth) 1542249929.0
This is what I love about humanity...when a crisis hits, we step up big time 💗 https://t.co/4nqsBlNlwh— Mary Elizabeth Young (@Mary Elizabeth Young) 1542241645.0
The Camp Fire, which is now larger than the city of Atlanta, has killed 48 people so far and wiped the town of Paradise off the map. As yet, there's no word on when Mr. Brundige will get to go back to Paradise. "We are more then [sic] positive his home is gone," Grant says. "Even if it isn't, the town will not be livable for a while."
Thankfully, Brundige's new roommates--human and canine--are in it for the long haul. As Grant told CNN, "He can stay with us as long as he would like."