Couple survives fire week before wedding day

Caitlin and Ryan's story
Photo courtesy Caitlin McCarthy
Photo courtesy Caitlin McCarthy

CAROLINA FOREST, SC (WMBF) - Throughout this week we've heard one unbelievable story after another. Some are heartbreaking, others are uplifting.

WMBF News Anchor Heather Biance has the opportunity of sharing the story of a couple she's privileged to call her friends. Their story is one of loss and love, but most of all new beginnings.

Ryan Neptune recalls seeing the horror unfold before his eyes. "One side it was just a wall of flames and then you saw that it went down the entire court and taking out all of the rows."

Caitlin McCarthy remembers getting the frantic call at work from her fiancé, Ryan, "Ok I need to leave. I have to be there. I have to get there. I have to see it for myself."

By the time she arrived, it was too late. "You're just staring at it and it's a horror scene and you're just helpless," recalls Ryan.

Despite losing every possession they've ever owned, their hearts ache to know what's happened to their dogs Kaya and Bella, a Husky and long haired Chihuahua - two peas in a pod and best friends.

"Not knowing about the dogs is obviously the worst part," says Ryan.

Caitlin is still coming to terms with not knowing for sure the fate of their pups.

"If they are out there, they are out there and I know that there are so many kind people that if any one of them came across them that I know that they would be ok. And I have to know that if they didn't make it out, then we'll just go from there," the couple believes.

In what's been the most emotional roller coaster of their lives, Ryan and Caitlin are ready to move on.

Years from now they'll look back at this week and remember it as the lowest of lows and highest of highs.

You see this Saturday, one week to the day, they'll walk down the aisle and become Mr. and Mrs. Neptune. And as they exchange their vows of "for better or for worse" they know that the worst is now behind them.

"We have so much to be thankful for. We are going to celebrate and it's going to happen and it's going to be a great time. This is why people have weddings is to celebrate each other and your love and the ones you love are with your to do that. That's all you need. That's a perfect recipe for a wedding," says Caitlin.

And in a stroke of luck her dress and veil are still at the bridal shop waiting. Untouched. Unscarred. Perfect.

For her, having her dress and Ryan is all she needs. "I always used to say to him 'oh you're my favorite. You're my favorite thing' and he really is all that I have now. I'm so glad that I have him and there is nothing else that I would want more than just to be by his side."

And by his side is where she'll be this Saturday thanks to a twist of fate in this story. Ryan works overnights at a hospital and he's usually sleeping during the exact time the fire came through. However, last Saturday he got up at 4:30 p.m., about 45 minutes before this fire started, so he could go to his niece's birthday party. Which we know now is a true blessing in disguise.

Ryan calls it the silver lining in all the chaos and still he thinks of others. "My heart still goes out to all the other people that were in the community because it's not going to be hard to find someone who is in a much worse and more serious situation than we are and I just wish the best for them."

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