WRIGHSTVILLE BEACH, NC (WECT) - Imagine being across the country and finding out by watching local news that your home was engulfed by wildfire.
That was a reality for Alicia and Michael Stephenson.
Michael works for Moffit Services and has been in Wilmington since Sept. 9 helping with Hurricane Florence relief.
Alicia lives in Calabasas, Calif., and came to visit her husband in Wrightsville Beach.
On Nov. 9, Alicia saw her house and car were turned into ash when she turned on the local news and noticed a reporter was standing front of what looked like her washing machine and her burned car.
“I said to Mike, ‘I think that is my house and I think it’s gone,'” Alicia remembered.
The reality of the situation hasn’t fully hit Alicia, who plans to fly back to Calabasas on Sunday to see what might be left of her home. Her father lives about an hour away from where her house used to be and she plans to stay with him for the time being.
Alicia and Michael haven’t lived together for a while due to Alicia taking a once in a lifetime job opportunity. Alicia lives in California and Michael lives in Houston.
The couple decided to use this time as a trial run to see if it would work for their marriage and so far, they say it has. They planned to give it seven months, then decide if they were going to continue living separately.
Michael said the fires in California are a sign.
“We decided we would spend six or seven months making a judgment call whether it would be something she could eventually do remotely, which kind of seemed a possibility and then this happened right at the seven-month mark,” Michael said.
Alicia says her neighbor was spraying water on his roof while watching the fires move toward their neighborhood. The fires reached their houses in five minutes from a mile away, allowing no time for anyone to grab valuables and escape the inferno.