A California couple who lost everything to the wildfires found a ray of hope when they discovered their engagement rings in the ashes of their former home.
“All around you, you see such devastation and it just gives you some hope,” Sam Brinkerhoff, of Santa Rosa, told InsideEdition.com. “[It reminds us] that our love is still strong and we’re still here and we’re going to stay strong and fight through it.”
Brinkerhoff said she and her wife Monica, who is five months pregnant, purchased a new home barely two months ago in preparation for their baby.
“Every day I was doing new projects to get the house ready; it’s so much work,” she said. “It was such a rush to buy this house and remodel and get ready for the baby. We just really wanted to be prepared.”
Earlier this week, Brinkerhoff said she woke up at about 2:30 a.m. to her wife’s panicked phone calls and an alarm going off in her house. She said the winds were so severe they had blown open a back door.
When she went to check it out, she noticed the vineyard neighboring their home was on fire, and the winds were blowing embers toward their house.
“I just shut the doors really quick, got dressed,” she said. “I just had to get out of my house. I didn’t grab my wallet – anything. I just didn’t have time."
The couple returned to the area two days later to find their home devastated.
“I knew my house probably wasn’t going to make it,” Brinkerhoff said. “I knew that my neighborhood wasn’t there. I noticed that nobody’s neighborhood was there for blocks and blocks.”
The first thing she searched for in the rubble was their safe that contained their passports, their engagement rings and other important documents.
While the documents had burned in the fire, the rings were found. They were scorched by flames, but were otherwise intact.
"Finding my wife’s and my engagement ring was just a little glimmer of hope," Brinkerhoff said.
The couple is now beginning to rebuild their lives, thanks to the generosity of friends and family, who have already begun sending items from their baby registry to replace the ones that burned. They are staying at a hotel about an hour away, paid for by their insurance.
“As a community, we’re going to get through this,” Brinkerhoff said. “We just need to continue to help each other.”
To donate to the Brinkerhoffs, visit their GoFundMe page.