And inside, they would find that they were looking for: pets cowering on the highest surfaces they could cling to.
Like the desperate family of cats she found at one house.
"That's where it hit me the most," Layton tells The Dodo. "They were on the highest parts of the house. Above the kitchen cabinet. On the back of the sink. It was pitiful."
Layton was among an army of volunteers working alongside firefighters and rescue crews in Pinetops, North Carolina, to save as many lives as they could - including those of pets who had been hastily left behind.