July 12th, 2018 at 11:00 am


Laura Rao, an agent based in our Santa Barbara office, thought she had lost everything when the Holiday Fire burned her home to the ground. The fast-moving fire forced Laura and her husband, Ishu, from their home with little time to salvage personal belongings.

When the couple smelled smoke, they realized they only had minutes to escape. Their sole focus was to quickly evacuate Ishu’s 12- and 14-year-old daughters, three dogs, and one cat from the home. Once everyone was safe from harm, Laura realized that she had left her engagement ring in a dish by the bathroom sink, part of her nightly routine before getting ready for bed.

“I drove away so upset,” Laura told The Washington Post. The couple has only been married eight months.

But the ring was not lost forever. When the couple returned to their home, Ishu searched for pipes to determine the location of their bathroom, and discovered the charred ring among the debris, according to The Associated Press.


As soon as Ishu found the ring, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department reported in a tweet that “Ishu promptly dropped to a knee and asked her to marry him again.”

“She’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known, she’s the glue in our family, and I adore her to pieces, so if I can put a smile on her face I’m going to do it,” Ishu told the AP.

Laura told the AP that his proposal “put everything into perspective” and reminded her that the people around her are what truly matter in life.

Mike Eliason, a fire department spokesman, witnessed the tearful but joyful proposal and was able to photograph the moment and share on Twitter.

“It was truly a special moment out of the ashes,” he told the AP.

The Holiday Fire, which prompted 2,500 people to evacuate, burned about 100 acres, destroying 28 structures, including 13 homes, according to the fire department.

Goleta and Santa Barbara have fallen victim to devastating wildfires, floods, and mudslides in the past year, but the community is strong, always helping each other out, and trying to find the bright side no matter the situation.

One of the many ways the community gives back is through the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade. The group formed once it saw a need to help neighbors dig their homes out from the wreckage of the mudslides and to rebuild the community. The group, led in part by agent Josiah Hamilton in our Montecito office, extended their condolences to the community of Goleta following the Holiday Fire and is recruiting volunteers to help homeowners find lost items and clean up the Wildlife Care Network.

If you’d like to help with Holiday Fire recovery efforts, you can sign up here.

Laura Rao is a licensed REALTOR® and member of Randy Glick’s award-winning team in our Santa Barbara office.

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