Dylan Karahalios and Raleigh native MC Brown planned on getting married and beginning a new life together in a Santa Rosa, Calif., home they’d already begun to prepare.
That home was lost Sunday night to the wildfires that have killed at least 31 people and destroyed 3,500 structures as they have burned across nearly 200,000 acres of Northern California. But the wedding plans moved on as scheduled for Friday at a venue north of the blaze.
“We are fortunate enough to have a support system that has rallied for us in a way we could have never imagined,” Brown said after a wedding rehearsal Thursday. “We hope people continue to rally and support our community, especially those who don’t have the support we do.”
Several members of that support system are in Raleigh, where Brown once worked at Busy Bee Cafe and still has friends at the Wilmington Street property, now the home of Trophy Brewing’s Tap + Table location.
Other close friends were already in town for the wedding week and were staying in the home with the couple when a fire began nearby on Sunday.
Karahalios’ cousin Allie Russos Earle – whose “soul sister” friendship with Brown was a key link for the couple – said she smelled smoke before going to bed, but figured the neighbors had built a campfire.
“We woke up at 2 a.m. after a transformer exploded and power went off,” Earle said. “We went outside and the sky was lit up, smoke everywhere, winds up to 70 mph.”
Within about 30 minutes of leaving the home, Earle said, a friend reported the entire street was on fire. The group had to stay in a hotel room, as Karahalios and Brown plan to do as newlyweds until they can decide on a next step.
Earle set up a gofundme page for the couple, with a description that begins, “MC and Dylan are getting married on Friday – come hell, high water or wild fires.”
The fundraising page surpassed its $13,000 goal in a single day, helping the couple to regroup and proceed with the wedding. But the donations are still being collected on the page, to assist other families affected by the wildfires.