Local cat survives Troublesome blaze

Howie the barn cat survived the East Troublesome Fire with just some singed whiskers and sore feet. His owner, Matt Woody, lives in the Trail Creek area, which was hard hit the night the East Troublesome Fire exploded.
Courtesy Dr. Mike Brooks

Howie is an unlikely survivor of the East Troublesome Fire, escaping with just his whiskers singed and a couple burns on his paws.

Howie the barn cat lives in Matt Woody’s workshop. Woody, who owns Spirit Lake Motorsports, said Howie showed up in Woody’s shop a couple years ago and went by “Kitty.”

“He’s friendly but a wild cat,” Woody said. “He likes to hunt and keep the critters away.”

Woody and Howie live in the Trail Creek Estates, one of the subdivisions hit hard by the fire when it blew up Oct. 21. Woody described the movement of the fire that night as hard and fast.

“I wasn’t evacuated — I ran,” Woody said. “I barely made it out.”

Of course, he didn’t have time to grab Howie. The rugged feline, however, had proven himself to be a fighter even before the fire as an outdoor cat in the mountains, holding his own against foxes and other predators.

“I knew when I left him he’d probably make it because that’s just how he is,” Woody said.

Woody’s house in Trail Creek was still standing after the worst of the fire. The home sustained some wind damage but was mostly unharmed, which was a surprise for Woody considering the damage to other houses in his neighborhood.

This bode well for Howie, who was discovered lying on the front porch of Woody’s house crying and unwilling to move. Woody took the feline fire survivor to veterinarian Dr. Mike Brooks.

“Dr. Brooks named him ‘Howie’ because we didn’t know ‘How He’ got there,” Woody explained.

Howie’s paws were burnt but he’s expected to make a full recovery. His whiskers were also singed, which is interesting because the rest of his fur looks to be in good shape.

It is anyone’s guess how Howie made it through that intense night mostly unscathed, but if cats could talk he’d have an interesting tale.

“I would love to hear his story,” Woody said. “He’s an amazing cat.”

Spirit Lake Motorsports is also still standing. If possible, Woody plans to open back up for business as usual next week with Howie at his side.

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