October 20, 2017

Couple Wednesday for 75 years dies after California wildfire consumes their home

11 October 2017, 04:40 | Silvia Roy

Napa couple dies in Atlas Peak Fire

Chuck Rippey looks over a cup found in the burned out remains of his parent’s home at the Silverado Resort Tuesday Oct. 10 2017 in Napa Calif. Charles Rippey 100 and his wife Sara 98 died when wind whipped flames swept through the area Sunday

But on Sunday night, they died together in their house in Napa, California, when a wind-whipped wildfire engulfed the property, causing the roof to cave in and the windows to explode, leaving the couple trapped inside.

Charles managed to fight through the intense heat and smoke in the house, and nearly made it to his wife's side, Chuck told the NBC affiliate.

They were married on March 20, 1942, the Napa Valley Register reported, and enjoyed playing tennis and golf.

"But even if he had made it, there was no way he was gonna leave her", he said.

As the fire approached, NBC Bay Area reported the couple's caregiver tried to save them. "They went to the University of Wisconsin together and have been together ever since".

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"So neither one of them was getting out". "The fact that they went together is probably what they would have wanted".

In the charred remains of the home, only metal and porcelain survived to testify to the couple's long life together.

Sarah, called "the Queen" by Charles, also graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was an avid bridge player and a homemaker, taking care of the family of five children.

Mike Rippey said his mother had previously suffered a stroke. Thousands of structures are destroyed with thousands more still under threat as firefighters struggle to contain the flames.

The wildfires rank among the five deadliest in California history, and officials expect the death toll to rise as the scope of destruction becomes clear.

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Charles was a veteran of World War II, having served in the army for 4 years.

At least 185 people were injured, and almost 200 have been reported missing in Sonoma County alone, though many may be safe but unable to use damaged communication systems.

After the war, he worked at a tire and rubber company, and a manufacturing company.

"Without them, it doesn't mean a thing", he said.

Julie Watson in San Diego and Ellen Knickmeyer in Napa contributed to his report.

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