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Burning love! Man proposes to his girlfriend on the night their new home went up in smoke - after recovering the engagement ring in the wreckage

 A North Carolina man made the best of a bad situation by proposing to his girlfriend the night their house burned down — after recovering the engagement ring that survived the blaze. 

Sean Matthews intended on asking his partner Kellie Stanley to marry him in their new home in Fuquay-Varina, in honor of the one-year anniversary of them moving in, but his plans changed after their property was destroyed in a fire on September 4.  

'Having her family there and some friends and neighbors, I knew it would be the last time that we would all be able to be at our home for a long time,' he told Fox News. 'I felt strongly that I wanted to leave with her as my fiancée.' 

Making the best of it: Sean Matthews proposed to his girlfriend Kellie Stanley on Saturday, September 4, right after their new home burned down

Making the best of it: Sean Matthews proposed to his girlfriend Kellie Stanley on Saturday, September 4, right after their new home burned down 

Opportunity: He got down on one knee in front of their family, friends, and neighbors who were there for support after the blaze broke out

Opportunity: He got down on one knee in front of their family, friends, and neighbors who were there for support after the blaze broke out 

Terrifying: The couple was on a dinner date when they received a Ring doorbell camera call around 6:30 p.m. from a frantic neighbor who said their back porch was on fire

Terrifying: The couple was on a dinner date when they received a Ring doorbell camera call around 6:30 p.m. from a frantic neighbor who said their back porch was on fire

The couple was on a dinner date that Saturday when they received a Ring doorbell camera call around 6:30 p.m. from a frantic neighbor who said their back porch was on fire.

Matthews and Stanley were immediately concerned about the safety of their 13-year-old dog, Memphis, but, thankfully, they had left the interior door in their garage unlocked that day.

As they raced home from the nearby restaurant, their neighbors used the garage code to rescue their dog and cut off the gas lines to prevent a potential explosion while they waited for firefighters to arrive on the scene. 

'Just seeing that our neighbors came together to try and save our home and save our dog, you can't put it into words,' Stanley told Fox News. 'We were probably 10 minutes from home and we could see the black billowing smoke in the air.'

The couple was allowed back inside their home after the fire was put out to see if they could salvage anything from the wreckage. 


Local heroes: Neighbors were able to save their 13-year-old dog, Memphis, and cut off the gas line to prevent a potential explosion as they raced home from the restaurant

Local heroes: Neighbors were able to save their 13-year-old dog, Memphis, and cut off the gas line to prevent a potential explosion as they raced home from the restaurant

What luck: While they lost almost everything in the blaze, Matthews was able to recover the engagement ring he had hidden in a fireproof safe

What luck: While they lost almost everything in the blaze, Matthews was able to recover the engagement ring he had hidden in a fireproof safe

While they lost almost everything they owned, Stanley found her Bible while Matthews was able to retrieve the engagement ring he had secretly stored in a fireproof safe. 

After everything they had been through that night, he was moved to propose to her right then and there, which she was not at all expecting.   

'Sean just gathered us all in the driveway at the end of the night to give a speech and thank everyone for being there for us. As he's giving the speech, in my head I'm trying to think of what I'm going to say,' Stanley recalled. 

'But, then the entire conversation shifted, and he just started talking about how we started and how we built this house last year,' she continued. 

'We moved in and his whole goal — which I hadn’t known at the time — but his whole goal was to propose to me in the house because the house means a lot to us.'

Matthews said he popped the question because he 'wanted to make the best of things and see the silver lining' after losing their home, saying they were grateful to be safe and have Memphis.

Big surprise: After everything they had been through that night, he was moved to propose to Stanley right then and there, which she was not at all expecting

Big surprise: After everything they had been through that night, he was moved to propose to Stanley right then and there, which she was not at all expecting

Grateful to be alive: Firefighters told the couple they probably would not have survived if they were sleeping because their smoke alarms never went off

Grateful to be alive: Firefighters told the couple they probably would not have survived if they were sleeping because their smoke alarms never went off

Next steps: Matthews and Stanley are staying with a friend for now, but next month they will move into an apartment where they will live while rebuilding their home

Next steps: Matthews and Stanley are staying with a friend for now, but next month they will move into an apartment where they will live while rebuilding their home 

The Fuquay-Varina Fire Department is still investigating what caused the fire, but the couple was told they probably would not have survived if they were sleeping because their smoke alarms never went off.    

'The fire was on the screen porch and our screen porch is gabled, so it went up into the attic first. And once he got into the attic, it liquefied any mechanical and electrical components up there,' Stanley explained. 

'So, by the time the smoke had penetrated the conditioned space of the home where the actual smoke alarms were, they were already dead.'

The newly engaged couple alternated staying in a hotel and with family members before settling into a friend's house. They plan on moving to an apartment in October, where they will live until their home is rebuilt.  

Their neighbor Amanda Mangum started a GoFundMe to help them rebuild after losing everything they owned. 

'People don't know what to say. They go, "Sorry for you losing your house, but congratulations." We feel the same way,' Stanley said. 'But, it definitely turned the night around for us and made something positive out of it instead of focusing on the tragedy.'

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