Mark Livingston says he tried to douse a deck fire but found there was no water pressure. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

On Sunday afternoon, 68-year-old Mark Livingston cued up an old movie in his hand-built home on Brookside Drive in Felton. His fiancée was making lunch in the kitchen when something caught his eye.

“My front porch was on fire,” he said. “I have no idea how it started.”

Livingston told the Press Banner how he raced to turn on the water spigot to douse the flames.

“I had no water pressure,” he said. “Then we called 911.”

A Felton Fire official confirmed they received a call about a structure fire at 3:15pm on June 30.

Almost an hour later, there he was, in the thick bamboo and redwood forest, watching Felton, Cal Fire, Ben Lomond and Zayante firefighters—among others—attack the blaze.

“It’s a f—ing nightmare,” he said, recalling how, back in the 1980s, he would punch the clock for eight hours, then come home to make progress on his house. “It was years of work for me.”

Mark Livingston watched as flames devoured the home he built with his own hands in the 1980s. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

The San Lorenzo Valley Water District customer spotted smoke rising from a walkway plank. He ran to get a jug to douse it himself.

“I need some more blue,” barked a firefighter overhead, hoping for more hose slack.

“I think that might be what we got,” another yelled back, with bad news.

But that was nothing compared to the anguish Livingston was faced with next.

He discovered Zebra, one of his cats, lifeless, amid the smoking rubble. He tried to revive her using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but it was too late. She was already dead.

“It’s the worst part of the whole thing,” he said, thinking about the good times they’d had together—about “just her beautiful smile and how much she loved to be held.”

Flames can be seen through the thick bamboo and redwood forest. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

At one point, while firefighters were at work on the roof, new flames started to spread across the forest floor. Soon, a stream of water was directed that way and things were back under control.

A crew of 13 State inmates and their captain got to work mopping up that area, to ensure nothing new could spark in the vicinity.

“Those guys get after it,” said a Ben Lomond firefighter of the guys in orange outfits.

Livingston said the thing that makes the terrible situation way worse is that Geico just recently canceled his home insurance.

By the time firefighters were packing up, the couple had already been offered a place to stay. And, late Sunday, he was still waiting to hear if another cat had survived or not.

Felton, Cal Fire, Ben Lomond and Zayante firefighters, as well as a crew of 13 State inmates and their captain, respond to the structure fire Sunday. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

A GoFundMe fundraiser has been established.

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Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected].


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