Nick Maes lost the Paradise home where he grew up in the Camp Fire that’s ravaging Northern California.
“The first thing (I thought of) was the tragedy of losing it, and all the history and memories that were in there,” Maes told CNN affiliate KCRA.
Then, he remembered the ring – the diamond ring he was planning to propose with soon.
Back when he bought it, Maes stored the ring in a safe inside his parents’ bedroom. Was it lost in the fire now, too?
Maes went back to the home where he spent 20 years, burned to ashes with nothing left but debris and dust, like almost all the homes in Paradise. More than 9,800 residences were destroyed.
Worried what he might find inside, Maes and his father pried open the safe with a crowbar.
Most of the contents had turned to dust.
“That’s it,” he said, spotting his goal. “Oh, my gosh!”
The ring had melted and will need to be repaired at a jewelry store, Maes said, but it had endured. And he still plans to use it when he pops the question, just maybe a little later than originally planned.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that she’s the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misspelled Nick Maes’ last name.