93-year-old Katherine Ray and her family thank Warden Stephenson for saving her life. Photos and video provided by Ryan Stephenson.

As the Valley Fire raged through a community of homes in Hidden Valley Lake on Saturday, 93-year-old Katherine Ray lay fast asleep on her living room couch.

But when California Department of Fish and Wildlife Warden Ryan Stephenson received word that a woman was missing from the evacuation party on Yankee Valley Road, he rushed back to find the street engulfed in flames.

Warden Ryan Stephenson

“I got a report that there was a bunch of people trapped back on Yankee Valley Road. I found them and got them out of there,” Stephenson told the Outpost this morning. “Then a resident told me another gal was trapped back at her house that we couldn’t get a hold of.”

Stephenson found Ray asleep on her couch, unaware of the impending danger. The 24-year-old Warden carried the wheelchair-bound woman and her dog Betty Boop to safety moments before her home caught flames and was completely destroyed.

Ray was picked up by her son and daughter-in-law yesterday morning, and is resting comfortably.

Although this was Stephenson’s first time saving someone’s life, the second-year warden remains humble. “It just feels good to know all of us working that night were able to do some good,” Stephenson said.


Katherine Ray rests on her couch with her rescued dog Betty Boop and Buddy who is still missing.