When Candy Hilton went to bed the night of Feb. 12, 2016, she never imagined that in a few short hours she would be homeless.
The fire alarm’s shrieks woke her, but the house fire had spread so fast the exits were blocked. She crawled out a window into the bitter cold and snow outside the home she shared with her elderly parents, then quickly realized they were still inside. She rushed back in and was able to get her mother out. Her father, disoriented and in shock, seemed not to hear their cries of encouragement until the last moment, when he scrambled out with the fire on his heels.
By the time the local Williams Lake, British Columbia, firefighters got there, the house was engulfed, and the home next door was catching fire. It was clear to the Candy, her parents and the neighbors gathered that there would be nothing left. By the time the firefighters got the blaze under control, both Candy’s home and their neighbors were a total loss. Three other nearby homes were also damaged, and it took almost a full day hosing them down until the fires stopped re-igniting.
Candy and her parents had nothing but the pajamas they were wearing. Their first concerns were necessities like warm clothes, food and a place to stay. Their community rallied and helped them with the basics, but all they had lost quickly started sinking in. Candy, a photographer, had lost everything for her livelihood: camera equipment, computer, hard drives and more. Beds, bedding, clothes, toiletries, furniture, appliances, personal items and photographs… all gone. The personal photographs were worst of all. Two months before, Candy had lost her best friend, Travis (pictured above). All of the printed photos of their lives together were in a stack in her room waiting to be scrapbooked. That was horrifying, as was the loss of ten completed scrapbooks that Candy and her family treasured.
Neither Candy nor her parents could bear to go back to the wreckage, but a friendly neighbor was willing to comb through the mess to see if something… anything… was left after the ravages of the fire and water. They were shocked to get the call that in the area where the fire had burned hottest – where the roof, walls and floor were gone and her father’s tools were melted – there were ALL TEN Creative Memories scrapbooks. The album covers were “toast,” as Candy described, and “some pages were charred, but all of the photos were recoverable.” It felt like a miracle and gave their family an emotional burst they desperately needed.
Insurance helped her parents with a new place to live, but Candy was not covered and has been trying to rebuild her life one day and step at a time. Surprisingly, though, the fire served as a turning point for Candy and helped her out of her grief. Having their family albums to turn to has “meant everything.” Now, Candy is inspired to get the message out as far and wide as she can that “memories are precious and priceless. I will be forever devoted to Creative Memories and their albums after this experience. They are worth every penny.” Candy advises everyone she meets to think about the memories and photos that mean the most to them and to “treat them like the treasures they are by getting them into albums.”
Creative Memories albums are not engineered to be fire- or flood-resistant, yet over the years many have shared stories like Candy’s. Do you have a photo-survival story to share? We’d love to hear it.
27 thoughts on “The Memory Keeper’s Miracle”
My heart goes out to Candy and her family!
Thank You so very much.
Oh what a tragedy but their lives were spared. Blessings on Candy and her family as they recover. Thank you for this wonderful story of encouragement, tho so sad.
Thank You so very much.
What a joy to find the albums still intact!! I bet she was thrilled to find them!
We had significant water damage and my albums didn’t do so well. It still breaks my heart…. I haven’t even gotten back into it to try to repair them cause it just upsets me to much.
It amazes me everyday that they survived as the covers were destroyed from fire and water but thank God my Photos are ok.Thank You for your kind words .
Thanks for sharing this story. It was certainly a miracle and a morale booster to find the albums. I know it’s expensive and time consuming but I’ve had copies of most of my albums made at a commercial copy shop. When I get the 12 x 17″ copies back I trim them to 12 x 12 and slip the copies into the large “pocket sleeves” to make a 2nd album. Then I give one album to my child, or grandchild and keep one for myself. It gives me peace of mind to know that in the event of a tragedy most likely there will be a copy of my lost albums in another state or city! And when I pass on then my albums can be divided among the various children/grandchildren.
I can barely get my albums done, let alone make copies of each album! lol But that does make great sense to do that!!! May I be that organized one day soon! :)
The price is so
Worth it to me .As those memories are priceless.Thank You for your kind words.
Great idea. I’m going to do that for my family. Those copies must be expensive.
This was an incredible story and it means something much that you have shar f it with us! Best wishes to Candy as she recovers from the loss and stands strong with the Memories!!
Thank you so much for your kind words.
If you contact CM, they will replace the albums so you put the pictures in new albums.
Creative Memories have been wonderful with me.Theybhave taken time to call me and chat with me and listen to my story.This team of people do what they do because they love it.I believe it’s not just a job to them.
Incredible story and it certainly makes a firm statement we must have copies of our photos in a safe place.
So very true I will never use any other album but the creative memories albums.They saved my memories.Thank you so much for your kind words.
wow, oh my goodness, you realize with each story you could be next. Thankfully all are ok and memories are saved…and more are created. Blessings abound even in the rubble.
Thank you so much for your kind words.We truly are blessed that’s sure.
I had a friend that lost her house and memories. I took pictures of every page of my albums and put them on a thumb drive in the lock box. I have always said I was going to do that but never did until this happened to her. It took half a day but was well worth the effort. I also uploaded them to Snapfish. I don’t know how long they keep them there.
I took pictures of all my albums too and they are on my hard drive and online on Onedrive. When I sold Creative Memories many years ago, I remember encouraging my customers to store their negatives at someone else’s house. It would be horrible to lose those memories! Backups are great to have!
It really is true you think it will never happen to you.Reality it can happen to any of us.Im so thankful that my memories were saved.
A wonderful story! How can we help Candy to recover?
Awe your so very kind .thank you so much for your willingness.Im not even sure myself
A true miracle! The recent California fires near us prompted me to upload all my digital photos to Forever.com so they will always be safe. This story reminds me that I need to take pictures of my pre-digital albums, or have the pages copied. Thanks for sharing this!
You’re welcome .Thank You for your kind words!
I to worry that my precious memories would somehow disappear! I signed on to be a Legacy Republic Maker and I am one at a time getting my albums digitized! Stored on DVDs and the cloud so I can see them anywhere, any time and share them with family and friends! It is costly to do the number of albums that I gave but the memories are priceless!!! Legacyrepublic.com/lm/dianewalker
Insurance should pay for the duplication… Printing costs
Where and how were they stored? Ex. Upright on a bookshelf?