California couple returns home amid raging wildfires, mandatory evacuations to retrieve wedding dress

A California couple who fled the raging wildfires burning through the Golden State returned home briefly amid mandatory evacuations to retrieve as many of their treasured belongings as possible.

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Lenay and Anthony Bavero were instructed by authorities Wednesday night to leave the Santa Paula home they’ve rented for two years, but they returned today after realizing they’d forgotten some irreplaceable keepsakes the first time around.

SLIDESHOW: Photos: Fast-moving wildfires raging in Southern California

The most important item on the list was Lenay Bavero’s wedding dress, she and her husband, told ABC News. Almost immediately after arriving home, Anthony Bavero headed straight to the shed where the dress was being stored.

“My main thing was the wedding dress,” he said. “I don’t really care about anything else.”

ABC News
Despite a mandatory evacuation, Anthony and Lenay Bavero returned to their Santa Paula home in the midst of raging wildfires to retrieve Lenay’s wedding dress and other important items.

Lenay Bavero, a mother of two and pregnant with a third, said the dress represented their “big milestone,” adding that she wanted to have the option to pass it down to her children one day.

“We’ve been through so much,” she said. “…Everything else doesn’t matter. I want our kids to have our memories.”

Gene Blevins/Reuters
Flames spread behind a vehicle from a Santa Ana wind-driven brush fire called the Thomas Fire in Santa Paula, Calif., Dec. 4, 2017.

Anthony Bavero had tried as early as 3 a.m. Thursday to get to the house, but authorities wouldn’t let them up the mountain, he said. As soon as their pastor and friend informed them later in the day that he was able to get into the neighborhood, they rushed home for a chance to grab more of their belongings.

In addition to the wedding dress, the couple, with assistance from their pastor, ran from room to room trying to grab everything of value, including important documents, some of their young children’s artwork and mounds of clothes still on their hangers. Throughout the chaos, a fully decorated Christmas tree stood invitingly in the background.

ABC News
Despite a mandatory evacuation, Anthony and Lenay Bavero returned to their Santa Paula home in the midst of raging wildfires to retrieve Lenay’s wedding dress and…

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