A group of Koi fish who survived the Cocos Fire was transported to a new home Monday.
At the Harmony Grove Spiritual Center, 29 of the 32 structures burned in the blaze. Chris Meredith’s home at 9409 Hillside Road was reduced to a pile of ashes. However, 35 of the 38 Koi fish in his backyard pond survived.
“I’ve had some of these fish for over 18 years,” Meredith said.
After hearing about the Koi fish survival story, Jerry Myers and the Koi Club of San Diego were eager to help.
“I’m the Koi Whisperer, so to speak,” Myers said.
When he first arrived, Myers said the fish were lethargic and their water was filled with debris.
“When the fire burned, it not only burned nature’s ashes, trees and things. But it burned homes. They have fiberglass, plastic, medal, and they give off toxins,” he explained.
Myers said the Koi were able to survive by staying in the deepest, coolest part of the pond where they could get more oxygen.
“What we did when we came in, we set up a hose that would put oxygen into the water, and that perked them up. Then we set up a little filter system,” he explained.
The Koi Club wasn’t the only one who came to the fishes' rescue. Firefighters gave the fish fresh water, and San Diego Gas and Electric used an emergency system to keep the water filtration system going.
"It has been this united front to save my Koi. It's heartwarming," Meredith said.
On Monday morning, volunteers began the delicate process of transporting the Koi to a sanctuary at Myers’ home in Lakeside.
One by one, the fish were netted and placed in buckets of clean water before being bagged and loaded onto a truck.
The Koi Club is planning to build a new koi pond on Meredith’s property once he rebuilds.
“By this time next year, you can come visit them, and it’ll look like we never had a fire,” Myers said.