Man saves engagement ring, applies for house after house burns down
A future groom turned a very unhappy situation into a positive one when he proposed to his girlfriend on the same night that their dream house burned down.
On the evening of September 4, Sean Matthews knelt down and asked Kellie Stanley to marry him. The proposal happened right outside their home in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina.
Friends and family had gathered in the couple’s driveway that night to show their support, and Matthews felt prompted to propose.
“I knew we wouldn’t be back home for months and months, if not a year,” Matthews told Fox News in a telephone interview.
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He continued, “Having her family there and a few friends and neighbors, I knew this would be the last time we could all be home for a long time. I felt strongly that I wanted to go with her as my fiancé.”
Stanley said she didn’t expect a marriage proposal given the circumstances they found themselves in. It was five or six hours after the fire took hold of their house and firefighters cleared the area at the end of the night.
“Sean just gathered us all in the aisle at the end of the night to give a speech and thank everyone for being there for us. As he gives the speech, in my head I’m trying to think of what I’m gonna do say, “Stanley recalls.” But then the whole conversation changed, and he just started talking about how we started and how we built this house year round. last.”
She continued, “We moved in and her goal – which I didn’t know at the time – but her goal was to bring me into the house because the house means a lot to us.”
Earlier today, Matthews and Stanley had decided to go out for dinner. At around 6:30 p.m., they received a Ring Doorbell video call from a frantic neighbor, who said their porch was on fire.
Matthews and Stanley rushed home from their destination, around 10 to 15 minutes away, as neighbors scrambled to save their 13-year-old dog Memphis and cut off the gas lines to avoid a possible explosion.
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Stanley thinks they were lucky they didn’t lock their interior garage door that day, as it helped the neighbors get Memphis out unharmed. The garage code also worked despite the fire, resulting in a quick and efficient rescue.
From other security cameras they had posted in the area, Matthews and Stanley were able to see how so many in their community came together and tried to fight the blaze with garden hoses until the arrival of firefighters.
“Just seeing that our neighbors have come together to try and save our house and our dog, you can’t put it into words,” Stanley said. “We were probably 10 minutes from our house and we could see black smoke rising into the air.”
When the fire was extinguished, Matthews and Stanley were allowed in so they could collect whatever was salvageable.
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Matthews retrieved the engagement ring he kept in their fireproof safe, and Stanley discovered that his bible was one of the few items that survived the fire.
“We might have lost home, but we left with Memphis, and that meant more to us. I wanted to make the most of things and see the silver lining,” Matthews said. “And it’s a humbling experience to leave your house with basically a car and the clothes you’re wearing.”
Stanley noted that their unique engagement created some “awkward” encounters.
“People don’t know what to say. They say, ‘Sorry you lost your house, but congratulations.’ We feel the same, ”she said. “But, it definitely changed the night for us and made it something positive instead of focusing on the tragedy.”
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The couple “bounced back” between hotel rooms and family members’ homes “a few times” before moving to a friend’s house. They will move into an apartment in October and stay there until their house can be razed and rebuilt.
Their neighbor, Amanda Mangum, set up a GoFundMe to help Matthews and Stanley with their transition.
Firefighters from the Fuquay-Varina Fire Department are still investigating what could have caused the blaze, Matthews told Fox News. They had been living in the house for a year and two weeks.
“Our house was brand new. Most of the elements of the house were also brand new and we are currently waiting for our original builder to provide us with an estimate so hopefully we can get them to rebuild our house,” Stanley said. . “We hope to get this information pretty soon, so that we can start construction and they told us it would probably be five to six months before we’re back home.”
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“We’re hoping for lumber prices, inflation and the housing market right now,” Matthews added. “We’re a little worried about what their number will go back to. So that’s just one of the big puzzles we’re trying to solve right now.”
From this experience, Matthews and Stanley say families should have a fire plan that includes more fire extinguishers and smoke detectors than you think you need.
“Our smoke detectors did not go off in the house. The fire was on the screened porch and our screened porch is gabled. up there, ”Stanley explained. “So by the time the smoke entered the air-conditioned space of the house where the smoke detectors were located, they were already dead.”
She added: “The fire marshal has since told us that if we had slept in the house we probably would not have survived because we would never have woken up.”
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The couple also recommend investing in a larger fire safe that can hold all the possessions you hold dear.
“There are a lot of items that we didn’t have in our safe and that we will never be able to recover. Items from our grandparents who have since passed away. Photo albums from years ago,” said Stanley said. “Again, I know these are just items, but there are items that cannot be replaced like these and it’s a tough pill to swallow.”