Family loses three loved ones to LNU Lightning Complex Fire
NAPA, Calif. (KTVU) - Mary Hintemeyer of Napa lost her life after trying to save her disabled boyfriend Leo and his son Tom.
On Tuesday, Hintemeyer left her home and came across a roadblock.
"She knew if she would pass they weren't going to let her go back, which meant Leo and Tom were not going to be able to leave," said Hintemeyer's granddaughter Crystal Gardner of Yuba City.
Gardner said her grandmother made the fateful decision go back to her home off Highway 128 near Lake Berryessa. The flames, though, made it impossible to leave by car. So the three sought refuge in a bunker.
RELATED: LNU Lightning Complex Fire: One more death reported bringing death toll to 5
"So they went in there, kind of just hoping they could ride it out,' Gardner said. "Unfortunately, the fire was so intense.
Within moments, three lives were lost, including the family's matriarch.
"She was kind of like everybody's grandma. It didn't matter if you were biologically hers or not," said Gardner, her voice breaking. "She was really warm and welcoming and open to everybody."
Hintemeyer's boyfriend of seven years, Leo McDermott used a wheelchair. Friends say he could be curmudgeonly but was still endearing.
Smiling, Gardner said, "He's kind of a rough old man, but he was very, he just wanted everybody to do good."
McDermott's son Tom also lost his life.
"He was always so happy, always had a smile on his face," Gardner said.
The death toll from the LNU complex fire in the North Bay has grown by one with an additional fatality in Solano County.
"Our condolences go out to the family and friends of that individual in Solano County," said Cal Fire incident commander Sean Kavanaugh. "That makes a total of five individuals directly related to this incident that have perished."
The identities of the victims from Santa Cruz and Solano counties have not been released. The Santa Cruz County sheriff's office says it has four missing-persons cases related to the fire.
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