You’ve heard the expression “Love Conquers All.” There's a story from Santa Barbara County's destructive Holiday brush fire which puts that saying to the test, a story focused on a photograph which is getting worldwide attention.
On Friday night, Ishu Rao and his wife Laura were watching TV at their North Fairview Avenue home. Ishu’s 12, And 14 year old daughters were at the house as well. They smelled smoke, and saw the Holiday Fire racing towards their home. In less than two minutes, they packed up the kids and pets, and were fleeing.
They were in such a hurry that Laura didn’t have time to grab one of her prized possessions. The Raos got married eight months ago, and Ishu bought Laura a Tiffany diamond ring.
The family made it to safety, but overnight, they learned from a neighbor that the two story house they rented had burned to the ground. On Sunday, they returned home for the first time, to find a cement foundation covered with debris, and ash. They were determined to find the ring. Ishu started calculating whether that batroom had been, and within minutes, found it.
The diamond was gone, and it was damged, but it was the ring. They both started crying, and then Ishu dropped to his knees, and asked laura to marry him again, and renew their vows. She said yes.
While this was happening, Mike Eliason, with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, happened to be there. Eliason is a Public Information Officer for the Department, but before that, was an award winning news photographer. He’s always on the lookout for pictures to share with the media, and captured the moment.
That picture of Ishu once again asking his wife Laura to marry him amid the ashes of their home became a beacon of hope amid the destruction. The community has embraced it, it’s appearing in newspapers around the world, and TV networks are telling the story.
The gutted home’s owners, who live on the East Coast, gave the couple back the rental’s deposits to help them start the recovery process. And, the Raos have already found another place to live.
They have some very special plans for the ring. But, they say this now-famous symbol of their love will soon be overshowed by something even bigger. They just found out Laura is eight weeks pregnant.