John and Wendy Lozano will never forget the moment they heard the Camp Fire was spreading toward their Paradise, California, home.
The remodeling crew they hired had just packed up to leave when a neighbor pulled up to tell them the fire was 3 miles away and closing in fast. The couple grabbed a few small things, their dogs, and a change of clothes. As St George News reports, a transformer blew and electrical explosions could be heard in neighboring homes as they drove away.
“My husband did not believe our home burned down,” Wendy said. “We got confirmation the next day.”
The Lozanos never saw their home again. They were driven out of Paradise by the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California’s history.
“From that moment, you’re just trying to mentally recover,” Wendy continued. “The first two nights I didn’t sleep at all. I had just lost everything.”
Two of the Lozano’s adult sons and John Lozano’s mother also lost their homes to the fire, which left little behind but rubble and ash. Returning to her former address days later, Wendy sifted through the debris.
It came as a surprise when she found two rings – her own high school ring and her husband’s Army ring. Both badly tarnished by the fire, Lozano put the rings in a box and tried to move on.
A few weeks later, the Lozanos did just that, moving to a new home in Washington City, Utah.
“When we dropped into Utah, my husband said he could hear angels singing. He said it just felt like home,” Wendy said.
While unpacking, Lozano found the box she had stored the rings in. They both held significance, John Lozano’s Army ring, especially.
“When it came out of the fire it was crispy, black,” Wendy said.
Restoring the ring was a challenge, but a worthy pursuit for Seven Oaks Fine Jewelers in St. George. Jeweler Laura Lister was eager to bring the piece back to its former glory.
“How could you not? They lost everything in the fire. You can’t find someone more deserving than someone who has lost everything,” Lister said.
Once the ring was restored, Lister showed Wendy. The women shared a tearful moment as they reminisced on the journey that brought them together, and the glittering gold and garnet ring that will forever be linked to that journey.
“I don’t know who was more tearful, her or me,” Lister said. “If you don’t get choked up and damn near cry, you are pretty heartless.”
It was Christmas morning when John Lozano saw his ring again, this time free of any blemishes from the fire.
It was a gift the veteran will not soon forget.
“He said it was the best Christmas present ever,” Wendy said.Whizzco