Victims identified after man finds his neighbors dead in Squirrel Valley

Bill Johnson, seen Tuesday, June 28, 2016, found his neighbors dead last week on McCray Road in Lake Isabella, Calif., in the wake of the Erskine Fire. (KBAK/ KBFX photo/ Adam Herbets)

Eyewitness News has learned the names of two people found dead near a burned down home in Squirrel Valley.

Hundreds of homes have been completely destroyed by the Erskine Fire. Some things might not be replaceable, but at least a house can be rebuilt.

For that reason, people who live in this small community say it's so much tougher to lose your neighbor.

"I saw two bodies laying right by the fence," said Bill Johnson. "I looked for a second more, and I noticed that it was Byron, and then next to him was obviously Gladys ... They were able to get out of the home and get as far as the fence before they collapsed."

Everybody on McCray Road will remember Byron and Gladys McKaig.

Neighbors might not known them by name, but they definitely heard Gladys playing Christian music on the organ for all of Squirrel Valley to hear.

"I think my favorite memory of Gladys was all the years she was our organist," said Bob Woods, a priest who used to worship with the family. "She just played beautifully."

"She was cute, driving her truck around," laughed Johnson. "They had a good, happy life."

Byron McKaig was an Anglican priest. Woods describes his former partner as a "man of extremely great faith" who was "very very devout."

"I still feel close to them both," said Woods.

Gladys was always by Byron's side. They grew old together until the end.

"Byron was laying on top of her," said Johnson, still in shock by what he saw. "You can still see a piece of her clothing left behind."

Somehow almost all of the neighbors' houses survived. Most of them say they're surprised cadaver dogs haven't found any more victims. In this case, they say it must have finally been time for the family to be with God.

"It's devastating to know such a nice couple and then find out this is how their life ends," said Johnson.

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