GLEN ISLA (Sept. 9, 2013) – Carole Ryan’s hands were scratched and bleeding as she sifted through the ashes and debris that had been her home. Her neighbors called it the “glass house” because of the beautiful windows across the front. Now, those windows are a pile of molten glass.
The Glen Isla resident, who works for The Meadows rehabilitation center in Wickenburg, was oblivious to the Yarnell Hill Fire, as she was attending a wedding in Prague when a TV report about the death of 19 firefighters caught her eye. She soon learned that her home had been destroyed and many of her beloved pets had been killed, including two cats, seven birds, two turtles and two lizards.
Upon her return, Ryan received the American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter’s last remaining sifter, built by a group of Boy Scouts. She located her firebox, containing a coin collection and other small items. The box was destroyed, and her coin collection had melted. But her late mother’s wedding ring, although covered in soot, remained in remarkably good condition. It’s her most prized possession – the ring she has kept since 1962, when at 15, her mother, Judy Gress, died of cancer.
“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.”
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. It’s a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. The Grand Canyon Chapter, established in 1916, re-chartered in 1999 and expanded in 2003, ranks as the fifth-largest chapter nationally, serving the more than 5.1 million people in Apache, Coconino, Gila, La Paz, Maricopa, Mohave, Navajo, Pinal, Yavapai and Yuma counties. For more information on the Grand Canyon Chapter, please visit www.redcross.org/gcc, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/redcrossgcc or follow us on Twitter under the handle @RedCrossGCC.