FUQUAY-VARINA, N.C. — Forget emotional roller coaster -- the day Kellie Stanley and Sean Matthews got engaged was more like an emotional bungee jump off a 50-story skyscraper.
But the impending whirlwind was unbeknownst to the North Carolina couple when they started their Saturday evening date night on Sept. 4.
Around 4:30 p.m., they left for dinner, according to plan.
Two hours later, Kellie got a notification on her cell phone that would change the course of the evening -- and their lives -- forever.
The couple's home security camera showed a person on the front porch of Kellie and Sean's house. It was their neighbor and she seemed frantic.
Through the intercom, the neighbor told Kellie that the back of their house was on fire. Kellie's mind immediately jumped to their elderly dog Memphis, who was inside at the time.
Thankfully, the neighbor was able to use the garage code to go inside and rescue Memphis before the fire spread.
Kellie and Sean left the restaurant immediately, racing toward the plume of smoke that was already stretching high above their town.
"From there, it was just chaos," Kellie recalled.
They were shocked to find their modern white farmhouse engulfed in flames that started from a still-unknown source.
Despite the horrifying scene, they were grateful Memphis was safe and no one was hurt.
"Nothing puts your life in perspective like driving out of your driveway with just the clothes on your back and your dog," Kellie said.
But what Kellie did not know was that there was one possession in the house that Sean was particularly worried about. He recently bought an engagement ring and was waiting for the right moment to propose to Kellie.
Roughly a year earlier, the two bought the brand-new house together, and Sean thought the anniversary seemed like a good time to start their lives together as an engaged couple. Sean hoped he could recover the ring from the fire wreckage.
After firefighters were able to tamp down the flames, they allowed the couple to enter the burnt remains of their home to search for anything salvageable.
Thankfully, the ring was unscathed inside a fireproof safe.
As Sean retrieved the ring, a thought came to him: What if he proposed now? Sure, it had been a traumatic day, but the highs and lows made him appreciate his girlfriend of seven years more than ever.
"I felt very strongly that I wanted to leave with her as my fiancée," he said.
After first getting the spontaneous decision approved by Kellie's mom, he gathered family members around before popping the question.
"We're going to get through this as financés or more. This was our house, but we'll have another one," he told her.
After getting over the initial shock, Kellie was thrilled.
"It turned the night around," she said.
As they rebuild their lives together, Kellie and Sean are grateful to their friends and family who are helping them get back on their feet.
Neighbor Amanda Mangum started a GoFundMe for the couple that's raised more than $12,000.
But the couple said ultimately they're most grateful for each other.
The experience has "one hundred percent brought us closer," Kellie said.
"It's cliché to say that things are just things but it's the god-honest truth," Sean said.