Karen Aycock, 54, of Santa Rosa died Monday in the Tubbs Fire.

She loved animals, perhaps more than people, her friends said.

Ms. Aycock volunteered with animal rescue groups and had several cats, who meant everything to her, said Chad Hinden, Aycock’s friend and former roommate.

She wouldn’t have left her beloved animals behind even if her life were in danger, he said.

“Even if she knew there was a fire, she more than likely would have perished trying to rescue them,” said Hinden. “She wouldn’t leave the house without her animals.”

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Wine Country Fires

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Ms. Aycock’s remains were found Thursday in the bathroom of her home in Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park neighborhood, Hinden said. She was one of many who have been confirmed dead from the fires that have raged through the North Bay.

Her family reported her missing earlier in the week, and on Tuesday her niece went out to Ms. Aycock’s home on Dogwood Drive, which had been destroyed.

Her aunt’s charred blue Ford Mustang was still on the street. The family had hoped she made it out alive, but feared the worst.

Ms. Aycock wasn’t much of a people person, Hinden said. She was timid, quiet. “But she had a big heart,” he said. “If you needed anything, she’d always be there to help you.”

Hinden met Ms. Aycock when they were neighbors in Coffey Park in the mid-1990s, and they later were roommates for a time. He kept in touch with his old friend, visiting whenever he returned from his new home in Texas. When he heard about the fire that devastated his hometown, he was worried.

“I tried calling her house and no response,” he said. “She probably got scared and hid in the bathroom and never made it out.”

Staff writer Lizzie Johnson contributed to this story.

Jill Tucker is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: jtucker@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @jilltucker