Weeks after her Agoura Hills home burned to the ground in the Woolsey Fire, a 96-year-old woman on Tuesday received some unexpected visitors: the two officers who got her out of it just in time.
Ruth Cook lived alone with her 12-year-old dog, Maggie, at the Seminole Springs mobile home park along Mulholland Highway. Her hearing was impaired, so when the Woolsey Fire roared nearby, deputies who responded to the scene had to force her door open.
“It was locked, and I heard a dog barking. I saw an elderly lady at the window and I immediately started yelling to get out immediately,” L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Rogers told KTLA. “It was apparent she was not understanding me.”
Rogers said when he finally managed to walk out of the residence with Cook, her frightened dog ran out. He chased after Maggie as another deputy, Tom Henzgen, helped her into the front seat of the car of a neighbor who had been packing his belongings. Rogers was able to catch the pet and place her in the backseat.
“We told the driver to go, and he drove them out to safety,” Rogers said.
It wasn’t long before flames tore through parts of the mobile home park, Rogers said, and he and Henzgen soon fled.
Rogers said on Nov. 11, two days after the ordeal, his wife saw KTLA’s interview with a father and son who lived next to Cook.
Standing among the remnants of their home, the men expressed concern about their neighbor Ruth, whom they described as hard of hearing. They said they couldn’t find her when they evacuated that morning.
Rogers reached out to KTLA in hope of getting in touch with Cook, saying he wanted to make sure that she was OK.
Cook ended up at the evacuation center set up at Pierce College. She spent seven days there, until volunteer Ari Alexenburg helped place her at an assisted living facility.
Rogers and Henzgen surprised Cook at the center, AlmaVia of Camarillo, on Tuesday.
“So you rescued me,” Cook said with a smile as she gave the officers a hug.
“That’s all I have, my house burned down,” she told the deputies while pointing to her dog Maggie.
“You’re OK, you’re good,” the officers reassured her.
The neighbor who drove her away from the blaze, Alex Rapoport, was also there. They spent four hours on the Pacific Coast Highway fleeing the fire.
“I just did what anybody else would have done. She needed a ride,” said Rapoport, who also lost everything in the fire.
Henzgen said it was nice to be reunited with Cook, since most first responders don’t get to check up on the people they help.
“All I wanted to do was give her a hug,” Henzgen said. “I’m glad she’s OK.”
Those interested in helping out Ruth Cook can contact AlmaVia of Camarillo Executive Director Matthew Hathway at 805-388-5277 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about donating to the Seminole Springs community can be found here.
Cook provided the following list of things she needed: large or size 14 elastic pants, shower chair, twin sheets and quilted bedding, bras, sports bra, wheelchair, large undershirts, size 7 tennis shoes, socks, dog food holder, small dresser, four-wheel walker and raised dog food trays.
KTLA’s Jennifer Thang contributed to this story.