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Remembering the victims: 8 dead from Redwood Valley Fire

Fire still active, more than 38,000 acres scorched

MENDOCINO COUNTY, Calif. - Eight people lost their lives in the Redwood Valley Fire, one of two fires that make up the Mendocino Lake Complex, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office (MCSO). Officials released the identities of each victim along with a brief summation of the conditions surrounding their deaths. 

As of Thursday, the fire is still active and has burned 38,730 acres, according to CAL FIRE, who said the flames are 81 percent contained.

Officials said Kai Logan Shepherd was 14 years old when he died in the flames. He was found near his family’s home on the 11300 block of West Road in Redwood Valley. Officials said it appeared he was attempting to evacuate the area on-foot when he was overtaken by the fire. Members of his family, including both his parents, suffered severe burns, for which they had to be hospitalized. 

Roy Howard Bowman was 87 years old when he died in the Redwood Valley Fire. Authorities said he was found in the burnt remains of his residence on the 4000 block of Fisher Lake Drive in Redwood Valley. Bowman’s son said it appeared his father was attempting to reach his wife, 88-year old Irma Elsie Bowman when he was overtaken by the flames. 

Irma Elsie Bowman was 88 years old and was married to Roy Howard Bowman. Officials said she was found in the burnt remains of her residence along with her husband. Their house was completely destroyed by the fire, deputies said. 

A 56-year-old man, Steve Bruce Stelter, was found near a vehicle outside his home on the 11300 block of West Road in Redwood Valley, according to officials. MCSO said it appeared he was attempting to evacuate using his vehicle when he was overtaken by the fire. Authorities said he lived with his girlfriend who was also found dead inside their home, which was completely destroyed. 

Janet Kay Costanzo, a 71-year-old woman from Redwood Valley, was found in the burnt remains of the home she shared with her boyfriend, Steve Bruce Stelter. Their home was completely destroyed by the flames. 

Elizabeth Charlene Foster, 64, was a caregiver for an elderly woman in Redwood Valley. According to officials, she was found in the burnt remains of the residence she shared with Jane Gardiner on the 12500 block of Tomki Road in Redwood Valley. The home was completely destroyed by the fire. 

Jane Gardiner was 83 years old when she lost her life due to the fire. Investigators said she shared her home with her caregiver, Elizabeth Charlene Foster, on Tomki Road in Redwood Valley. She was found in the burnt remains of her home. 

Jane Gardiner and Charlene Foster had called Gardiner’s step-son on Oct. 9 at around 1:30 a.m., MCSO said. During the phone conversation, officials said the stepson was told there was fire “all around the residence” and the pair was awaiting evacuation by the fire department. 

Margaret Stephenson was from Redwood Valley as well. She was 86 years old when she died inside her home, according to deputies, who said it appeared she was attempting to evacuate through her garage. Her home on the 12800 block of Tomki Road was completely destroyed by the fire. 
 


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