(CNN)Kelly Thomas just had time to gather her animals on Tuesday when the evacuation order was issued for Berry Creek, California.
Her husband Brad doused their house with water in a desperate effort to save it from the North Complex Fire, which has burned more than 252,000 acres since it was sparked by a lightning fire on August 17.
They fled the fire and ended up sleeping in their vehicles for two nights in a Walmart parking lot in Oroville, which is about 30 miles away.
Family helped them get a small travel trailer, she said. They are staying there with a friend, Kelly's six dogs and a bird.
Kelly Thomas said her horses and zebra were rescued and her mom and four cats are staying with someone else.
"It's been a wild few days to say the least but we are grateful to be alive," she said.
Brad Thomas found a desolate scene when he returned Thursday to see their home.
"We just had to know," Kelly Thomas said. "It was killing us inside not knowing."
The house was destroyed. He found burned-out vehicles and equipment around the yard.
"We lost everything. His parents' urns, pictures, clothing, personal effects, everything," she wrote in an Instagram message.
She said their insurance had been canceled before the fire because a neighbor had dumped cars and other junk too close to their property.
The food truck she'd just bought was also destroyed.
"I had just paid it off and put it in my name Monday," she said. "Unfortunately the day of the fire was literally the day I was going to insure that also. I was two weeks away from a soft opening and being a small business owner."
Brad Thomas is a former heavy equipment operator. He was surprised to see that his Bobcat loader not only survived the fire, it started right up and was working just fine.
Kelly Thomas said they were grateful to be safe.
The North Complex Fire has killed at least nine people, including a 16-year-old boy who was fleeing the area in his vehicle, according to Butte County authorities. More than a dozen were missing, the sheriff's office said this week.
Wildfires are blamed for at least 27 deaths in California, Oregon and Washington and dozens more are missing.