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10:03 AM Sun, Dec. 16th

'Something did survive' California wildfires: Goldfish

FILE - In this file photo, photo Logan Hertel fills a bowl of goldfish with water after he and some friends rescued them from a destroyed home on Parker Hill Court in Santa Rosa, Calif. Hertel is determined to reunite them with their owners. (Nhat V. Meyer/San Jose Mercury News via AP)

FILE - In this file photo, photo Logan Hertel fills a bowl of goldfish with water after he and some friends rescued them from a destroyed home on Parker Hill Court in Santa Rosa, Calif. Hertel is determined to reunite them with their owners. (Nhat V. Meyer/San Jose Mercury News via AP)

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In this photo Logan Hertel holds a bowl full of goldfish he and his friends rescued from a destroyed home on Parker Hill Court in Santa Rosa, Calif. (Nhat V. Meyer/San Jose Mercury News via AP)

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — What Logan Hertel and his friends found in the scorched remains of their Northern California neighborhood wasn't a photo album, wedding ring or even a skittish cat separated from its family for months.

What they discovered were goldfish — plain, sickly and living off ash in a grimy tub.

Somehow the unspectacular goldfish had survived infernos that had wiped out neighborhoods, and Hertel was determined to reunite the fish with their owners, he told The Mercury News of San Jose.

"I could picture myself in their shoes," said Hertel, a 21-year-old student at Santa Rosa Junior College, "and knowing that if I lost everything, even knowing something this small is alive would be kind of important to me."

Wildfires in October swept through Sonoma, Napa and other counties in and around wine country, killing 44 people and destroying thousands of homes. Entire neighborhoods were leveled.

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FILE - In this file photo, Stephen Felando, center, hands Logan Hertel a gold fish they came across in scorched remains while going to their friends home on Parker Hill Court in Santa Rosa, Calif. (Nhat V. Meyer/San Jose Mercury News via AP)

Lisa Hertel made signs Tuesday with her number and a photo of her son Logan rescuing the goldfish. She taped them around the rubble of the home where the fish were found.

The Hertels were lucky that their house wasn't damaged. But she knows other people lost mementos, keepsakes and photos, which is why she wants to get the fish back to their owners.

"Something actually did survive," Lisa Hertel added, "and somebody cared enough to get the fish and save them."


Information from: San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, http://www.mercurynews.com