AZ woman finds mother's wedding ring in Yarnell Hill Fire debris - Tucson News Now

AZ woman finds mother's wedding ring in Yarnell Hill Fire debris

Carole Ryan in the debris at her home that was destroyed by the Yarnell Hill Fire. (Source: American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter) Carole Ryan in the debris at her home that was destroyed by the Yarnell Hill Fire. (Source: American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter)
YARNELL, AZ (CBS5) -

An Arizona woman who lost her home and 13 pets in the Yarnell Hill Fire is finding a glimmer of hope.

Carole Ryan was at a wedding in Prague when the quickly-spreading wildfire destroyed her home in the small Yarnell community of Glen Ilah this summer.

Ryan said she saw in a TV report that 19 firefighters had perished fighting the fire. She learned her home had been destroyed, and many of her beloved pets had been killed, including seven birds, two cats, two turtles and two lizards.

When she landed back on Arizona soil, she received the last remaining sifter from the American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter. It was built by a group of Boy Scouts.

"When I got off the plane, my son picked me up. I couldn't find my luggage at first. I said, 'You know, Mark, this may be everything I own in the world.' I was hoping I was lying, and he turned to me and said, 'It is mom. The house is gone,'" recalled Ryan.

Ryan said she discovered her firebox was destroyed, and her coin collection that was inside had melted, but her late mother's wedding ring, to her surprise, was in good condition.

"I screamed. I just screamed. I just could not imagine. I mean nothing else mattered once I found that ring," she said. 

Ryan said the ring is her most prized possession. She has had the ring since 1962, when her mother died of cancer. Ryan was 15 at the time.

"When I thought I had lost absolutely everything, I found my mom's wedding ring in the ashes of my home," Ryan said. "That discovery meant the world to me. I found it by sifting through the ashes, using a sifter given to me by the Red Cross. What a gift they gave me - at a time I needed hope so desperately. Finding the ring meant so much to me, but what means almost as much is the joy this news has given other people. The Red Cross workers and so many people saddened by the wildfire and the deaths have really enjoyed hearing this story. It has made so many smile, especially me."

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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