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One down, eight left

Rob and Scott are alive today because of the efforts of one determined young woman, a cat named Mollie, two firefighters from Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue and a $20,000 heat detector.

Weather gave birth to Rob and Scott under a snare of blackberry bushes behind Melody Nash’s garage near Island Lake.

Nash knew that the 10-year-old Weather was pregnant with her second litter of kittens, so when the 19-year-old Olympic College student came home Thursday, Oct. 19, and discovered a bleeding Weather on the front porch, she knew a newborn kitten had to be somewhere nearby.

Weather wanted to show off her new babies, and led Nash to the bushes.

“I heard the kittens meowing somewhere in the bushes,” Nash said. “So I took Weather into the bathroom so she wouldn’t have any more kittens outside.”

Nash wanted to find the kittens, so she grabbed a nearby clam-digging rake and tried to pull back some of the bushes in an attempt to locate the newborns. While attempting to dig, she lost her footing and fell down the nearby embankment into the blackberry vines.

“My friend Amber Barker was here and she tried to pull me out,” Nash explained. “But I fell further in so she called 911 to get some help.”

With Barker laughing at Nash’s plight, the 911 operator believed it was a prank call until Barker was able to calm down and explain she was being serious.

So Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue Lt. Rob Law and firefighter Scott Deschryver were dispatched to rescue Nash from the bushes.

“After we got there, we grabbed her and pulled her up out of the bushes,” Law said. After Nash’s injuries were evaluated, she wanted to get back to her search.

“She had the dedication of a jungle missionary,” Law said. “She wasn’t going to stop until she found those kittens.”

To protect Nash from more scrapes, Law said he let her wear his heavy bunker jacket and gloves while he manned the rake.

“Once we found out she was committed,” Law said, “we decided to get out the Argus, because we figured we might be able to get a heat signature from the kittens.”

The Argus is a $20,000 piece of equipment the fire department uses to find hot spots or people in a fire by their heat signature. Items radiating heat glow white on the unit’s monitor, while surrounding areas are grey or black.

“We have used the Argus in fires and at accident sites at night to see if anyone has been thrown from their vehicle,” Law said. “Law enforcement has stopped by on occasion to borrow it when they have to find people who have run off into the woods.

“It was just really neat to couple this girl’s tenacity with this technology.”

But the Argus had a difficult time seeking out the wet and cold kittens’ heat signature through the thick layer of brush.

“We went around to the bushes to the other side,” Nash said. “I dug while Lt. Law pulled back the bushes with the rake, while Deschryver used the Argus.”

After 30 minutes of searching, Law was beginning to doubt the kittens would be found. But Nash was still determined.

“I heard the kittens meowing,” Nash said. “Then Mollie came out and went to where the kittens were and pointed them out to us.”

Using the Argus, the full-size cat was easy to spot and Nash concentrated her digging on the area where he was.

“I found the first kitten,” Nash said. “And when we looked with the Argus again, we found the second one.”

Both kittens were cold, so Nash’s mother warmed a towel in her microwave to heat them up. Nash discovered one kitten wasn’t breathing, but the heat and a light massage soon had the tiny creature breathing on its own.

“She saved them,” Law said. “Without her they wouldn’t have survived.”

Before the two firefighters left, Law joked that Nash should name one kitten “Rob,” another “Scott” and another which had been born during the rescue efforts “Smokey.”

So that’s what Nash did. Weather now is the proud mother of five healthy kittens — Rob, Scott, Smokey, Amber and Melly.

And though Nash was late getting back to school that day and injured her back when she fell, she wouldn’t have done anything different.

“We had to save them,” she said with a smile. “They’re my kittens.”

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