This past week, Eric Lopez, his girlfriend, Annette Perez, and their baby narrowly escaped a fast-moving wildfire that tore through their Northern California neighborhood and turned their home into a pile of ashes.
Later, the young couple returned to the rubble to see if any of their possessions could be recovered. Specifically, Lopez was looking for something very special he had hidden behind the television.
Although the TV was barely recognizable, a ring box and its contents had survived the firestorm. He opened the charred box to reveal a dusty — but otherwise undamaged — diamond engagement ring.
“The TV was still standing and I see a little box on top of it, so I said, ‘Oh, that’s the ring!’" Lopez told the local ABC affiliate KGO. "I cannot believe it. I can't believe it's in the same spot I left it."
Lopez had been thinking about the ring since the Valley Fire forced him, Perez and Eric Jr. to evacuate with barely the clothes on their back.
“Pretty much all week, that's what was in my mind, 'The ring, the ring, hopefully it's good,'” said Lopez.
Upon seeing her new ring for the first time, Perez was overjoyed. "It is so beautiful," she said.
Lopez placed the engagement ring on his girlfriend's finger, but clarified that a proper, formal proposal will be coming at a later time. Lopez said he wants to make it special.
Although the blaze was likely as hot as 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit, the metal ring box did an admirable job of protecting the gold and diamond ring. Even without the box, the white gold and diamond ring should have faired well because the ignition temperature of a diamond is 1,652 degrees Fahrenheit and the melting point of the precious metal is about 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Valley Fire has been burning since September 12 about 80 miles north of San Francisco. President Barack Obama signed a declaration Tuesday to release federal funding to help battle the blaze that has charred 118 square miles, consumed 1,050 homes in Lake County and forced some 12,000 people to evacuate.
Images: Screen captures via abc7news.com.