PHOENIX, Ore. — Thousands of people lost their homes and belongings in the Almeda Fire … but weeks later, some items have been recovered.
Central Point woman, Linda Williams, grew up in the Rogue Valley.
She was at work and her sister-in-law, Marge, was at home in Phoenix on Highway 99 when the Almeda Fire broke out.
She insisted on picking up Marge so they could evacuate to safety.
“I pulled in and said ‘We gotta go! We gotta go! Get in the car!'” Linda said. “She had her toiletries, her medication, her satchel of important papers and a sack, a paper sack, of three days of clothes,” she added.
They both navigated through bumper-to-bumper traffic on their way to Central Point.
A fire broke out near Table Rock Road later that night and they had to evacuate, again, this time from Linda’s home.
After the ashes settled, the property management company informed them Marge’s home was destroyed so Linda got a police escort to see Marge’s home and belongings.
“At that point, she did not want to come back to the home. She still hasn’t been able to come by and see for herself,” Linda said.
The main focus for Marge was one item of personal value … her wedding ring.
Linda contacted a non-profit organization, Samaritan’s Purse, which specializes in finding jewelry.
“It took about 45 minutes, but when Rod (the sifter) handed it to me, I thought, maybe it was it. We opened it and it was full of ash, but her ring was inside. All the diamonds are there and it was exciting,” she said.
Rounding up the ring for Marge meant the world to Linda.
“I don’t think she thought they’d be able to find it,” she said. “It was nice to be able to take something back to her when everything was gone,” she added.
Now, with plenty of paperwork to fill out, but a place to stay and support from family, Marge and Linda look forward to new beginnings, which Linda said has a nice “ring” to it.
Linda said she was the first person Samaritan’s Purse helped in the Almeda Fire and she’s thankful it was a successful start for them.