US & Canada

California man proposes after finding rings in ashes of home

Mr Rao proposes again to his wife in the ashes of their home Image copyright Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department
Image caption The couple married eight months ago

A couple who lost their home to a wildfire in California shared a special moment when the husband found his wife's wedding rings among the ashes.

They had returned in hopes of finding the rings, and when Ishu Rao discovered them, he got down on one knee and asked his wife Laura to marry him again.

Their home in Santa Barbara county was one of 13 destroyed by the Holiday Fire this weekend.

The blaze has been 85% contained as of Monday morning, officials say.

Image copyright Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department
Image caption Mrs Rao's damaged, but intact, Tiffany wedding ring

Just before the fire broke out on Friday night, the couple was getting ready for bed. Mrs Rao had removed her Tiffany wedding and engagement rings per usual, according to CBS News.

The approach of the fast moving blaze gave them just minutes to evacuate with Mr Rao's two daughters, ages 12 and 14, as well as the couple's three dogs and a cat.

The couple were married just eight months ago and had lived in the home for three years.

When they returned to the rubbles of their home on Sunday, Mr Rao used the remains of piping to figure out where their kitchen sink - and his wife's rings - might be.

As soon as he found them, Mr Rao told CBS he decided to ask his wife to marry him again.

"She's the most beautiful woman I've ever known, she's the glue in our family, and I adore her to pieces, so if I can put a smile on her face I'm going to do it," he said.

And of course, she said yes.

Mrs Rao also said the moment put it all "into perspective" and "took all the pain away".

Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason took a photo of the moment and shared it on Twitter, where it quickly garnered support and calls from users for company Tiffany and Co to fix the damaged jewelry.

The wildfire that consumed the Rao's home is one of 16 currently active in drought-stricken California.

At least one person has died in the Klamathon Fire in northern California, which has burned over 21,000 acres, local media report.

On Saturday, California Governor Edmund Brown Jr issued a state of emergency in Santa Barbara County due to the Holiday Fire, one of several emergency proclamations in the state due to wildfires.

According to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, in addition to the destroyed homes, another three were damaged and 15 buildings including sheds and barns were also destroyed.

Officials say the Holiday Fire, which started on 6 July, has consumed 100 acres.

The state of Colorado is also experiencing a number of active wildfires, many burning thousands of acres and causing thousands of residents to be evacuated.

The Spring Creek fire has now surpassed 107,000 acres, but fire authorities have managed to contain 70% of the blaze thanks to rain this weekend, the Denver Post reported.

There are currently over 40 wildfires blazing across the western US, from Washington state to Texas, according to government data.

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