By now, everyone knows about the horrific wildfires devastating California, and all the news we hear seems to be bad. From the historic death toll to the unprecedented number of people missing, it’s hard to come away with anything uplifting at all.
But one story has brought a smile to the face of not only those affected by it, but also to those who are searching for any tiny bit encouragement after such a heartbreaking event. And the story comes from someone who seemingly lost everything in the fires.
Nick Maes was planning to propose to his girlfriend of two years, Shastina Hughes before the deadly California Camp Fire devastated Butte County. Among the homes destroyed was that of his family, and with it, a precious item that he thought was safe from all harm.
Inside a ‘fireproof’ safe was the sapphire engagement ring he had bought. With the degree of destruction the fires brought, Nick was crushed to think that his treasure had gone up in flames with the rest of the family’s possessions. And he could not stop thinking out it in the days that followed the tragedy.
Once the fires were finally out and it was deemed safe to return to his parent’s home, Nick decided that he was not giving up on the ring. He was determined to find the safe in which he had kept it, even if he had to sift through tons of ashes and debris to find it.
“The first thing (I thought of) was the tragedy of losing it and all the history and memories that were in there,” he said.
So, he and his father set out on a quest that most would think was impossible.
Sifting through the rubble and ashes of what had been the family home for over 20 years, things were not looking good. Then, as he passed his flashlight over one pile of debris, he saw a glimmer of something in the light.
The intense heat from the blaze had melted objects from the safe together. But when he picked up the charred lump of metal, there was no mistaking what he saw. “That’s it,” Maes said. The Sapphire engagement ring was intact but definitely NOT in the same condition that he last saw it.
“Oh, my gosh! Oh, wow! It is melted and there’s a bullet around it.”
Overjoyed at the discovery of his treasure, Nick said that he is going to change his plans for the proposal he had set for next month. He is determined to get the ring repaired so that when he presents it to Shastina it will have regained its former luster and beauty.
And fiancée Shastina is happy to be patient. “I want him to be able to have his moment,” she said to Yahoo Lifestyle. “Some guys work so hard to plan that special question. I don’t want to ruin it for him. I’m trying my best to just let him do him.”
The California Camp Fire which destroyed the entire town of Paradise is only 55 percent contained as of Sunday. The fire has burned more than 149,000 acres and claimed 76 lives with 1,276 unaccounted for.