Ishu and Laura Rao married just eight months ago and were enjoying their lives as newlyweds when disaster struck on Friday: a wildfire in Santa Barbara County burned their home to the ground, along with 12 other homes. Around 2,500 people were evacuated due to the fire. Thankfully, their family all made it out alive, including their 12- and 14-year-old daughters, three dogs, and a cat.
The couple returned to their home, which they had shared for three years, and were hoping to find their most valuable belongings. This included Laura’s wedding ring, which she routinely takes off at night before heading to bed. Her husband was able to figure out where the kitchen sink was by looking for piping, and he luckily recovered his wife’s ring from the ashes. And instead of casually giving the ring back to his wife, Ishu decided to get down on one knee and propose to her again. He explained why.
“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.”
“It put everything into perspective,” Laura said. “It took all the pain away and reminded me of what matters in life: the people around you.”
The photo was snapped of the moment that Ishu got down on his knee, and it’s been circulating on social media as a message of love and hope.
#HolidayFire– Having lost their Fairview Ave home of 3 years Friday night, Ishu and Laura Rao returned w Santa Barbara Co Fire to let Laura search for her wedding ring. She found the damaged Tiffany ring & Ishu promptly dropped to a knee and asked her to marry him again. pic.twitter.com/GVUgO8dgTJ
— SBCFireInfo (@EliasonMike) July 8, 2018
The fire that burned the Rao’s home, the Holiday Fire, has reportedly burned 100 acres and is around 80 percent contained, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune. The total devastation includes 28 buildings, 13 of which were homes. There have been no reports of injuries, detailed KEYT.
Holiday Fire Update – July 7, 12:30 am:
50-80 acres and 10-20 structures burned; 2,200-2,500 people evacuated; 2,000 customers w/out power. Cathedral Oaks is closed between Carlo to Patterson. pic.twitter.com/VNm24abPMb
— Santa Barbara County (@countyofsb) July 7, 2018
Although the fire burned many acres, it only affected a small area of the city limits.
“We have been able to rescue many animals and we have a team being escorted to the center now to rescue the rest of our birds and limited supplies. Windy conditions are still a concern. Most of our animals have been saved, and they are at various locations being cared for,” the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network also said.
During the height of the fire, over 30 fire engines were on the ground fighting the blaze. Many people who live near the fire also lost power due to downed lines. There were also high winds, which contributed to the hazardous conditions.