WEED, Cal. – Bertha Cervantes looks on as a team of family members and firefighters sift through rubble under the setting sun. For hours, the firefighters have been helping her family search the burnt wreckage of their home for surviving valuables, even after many other families have already called it a day. Despite the devastation, Bertha is struggling to hold back tears of joy.
She already found what she came for.
“My wedding ring,” said Bertha, holding up the still shiny diamond. “It means 40 years, it means a lot for me.”
Bertha says she had taken off her wedding ring to cook when the fire came racing through her Angel Valley neighborhood. She and her husband, Jose, had to rush the family out before they could grab it.
She says she had already given up hope of finding it, until the firefighters managed to sift it out.
“I was crying for hours saying it’s impossible. And then when the ring came… my heart started pumping,” said Bertha.
That tiny miracle is one of the few things to survive the disaster.
The house, which Jose had built with his own two hands, is now nothing but a foundation – the tiny handprints of their now grown kids still visible in the concrete. The family’s entire life savings, which had been stored under the bed in the form of jewelry and cash, is completely lost.
And a lifetime worth of family memories and sentimental items has vanished entirely.
But the family says that little ring, now caked with a layer of ash, has given them the will to begin the long process of rebuilding. And they say it never would have happened without the firefighters.
“We were just absolutely devastated,” said Bertha’s daughter, Adriana. “But now… she’s just so happy with the wedding ring, that’s really what matters to us.”