The wildfires in California are destroying homes and ruining lives. Because climate change has increased the rapidity and destructiveness of these fires, California is feeling the heat first and foremost. Wildfires are growing deadlier each year and are making many well-to-do people homeless. That’s why a 67-year-old mother of two Patty Shales was heartbroken when the most recent California wildfire burned down the house that her late husband had built for her.
Shales thought she had lost everything in that home. But when a firefighter happened upon the antique wedding ring that her late mother had given to her, Shales was left “speechless.” The ring, although not worth much in monetary value, had a lot of sentimental value to Shales. Her mother had recently passed and given it to Shales upon her death.
Shales was among the ten homeowners in Brentwood, Los Angeles, who were affected by the Getty fires that ravaged the area recently. Because Shales and her daughter Blair were home during the blaze’s approach, they “ran for their lives” and only had time to rescue the family’s two dogs before the fire destroyed their entire home.
After the fire was put out, a Los Angeles Fire Department fireman was rifling through the remains. He found a small jewelry box floating in a pool of water near the ashes that were formerly the home of Shales. When he plucked the box from the gutter, he reunited it with Shales. She was “speechless” because it was the priceless ring that her mother had left her on her deathbed. Shales could not believe that her mother’s ring was not ruined in the fire. She told the fireman that she felt “blessed” and “grateful” that the ring was found despite the Getty fires.
Shales has since come forward to the local news about the ring. While conducting the interview, she pointed to the antique ring and said, “I don’t have anything, except for this.”
She added, “I lived in this home for forty-three years. Right before I left the house, I could see a reflection of the fire that was already in the house.”
Shales’ husband, Gene, built the home. He ran a lucrative physical therapy business. The mansion was 7,000-sq.ft. and housed the family for decades. Gene passed away in 2007, leaving behind Shales and their two children.
The fire destroyed four decades of memories. Only her mother’s ring remained. Everything her husband had built and owned was destroyed in the blaze, worsened by climate change.
“When I saw that, I was overwhelmed with emotion,” she said. “I feel that she sent me this to tell me that she’s in Heaven, and she’s okay. And that I’m going to be okay. I just feel so blessed and so grateful to the firemen. He could have just ignored that box. Although I lost my home, I survived. My daughter survived, and my dogs.”
Blair, a magazine worker, shared that the appearance of the ring was “miraculous.” She added, “(the fireman) found what was the only thing to have survived the devastating fire, my late grandmother Dorothy McDonough’s wedding ring.”
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