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Couple Dies Together In Wildfire After 75-Year Marriage

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A pair of soulmates who had been married for more than 75 years passed away together when wildfires trapped them in their California home.

"The only thing worse would have been if one survived without the other," the couple's granddaughter, Ruby Gibney, told KTVU.

Chuck Rippey said that his father, 100-year-old Charles Rippey, was dependent on his walker, but despite its absence, he almost made it over to his wife, Sara Rippey, who was paralyzed after suffering a stroke years ago, reports ABC.

More than 10 wildfires have been blazing across the Golden State's vineyards since Oct. 8. Thus far, the fires have killed at least 15 people and more than 20,000 individuals have evacuated, according to CNN. At the moment, officials are unsure whether humans or natural causes are to blame for the fires.

"My father was sleeping in a different room, and we found him halfway to her room," son Mike Rippey told ABC. "And so he never made it to her room. But even if he had made it, there was no way he was gonna leave her. So neither one of them was getting out."

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Most of the fires started on the night of Oct. 8, when the weather was dry and winds reached more than 50 miles per hour, causing the fires to spread rapidly.

Gibney said that her grandparents' home "was quickly ravaged by the fire, and they were unable to get out in time and tragically died in the fire," notes KTVU.

Chuck told KNTV that his parents' caretaker did everything she could to try and save them.

"Before she knew it, the roof was caving in," Chuck said. "So it was very fast, very fast … She went down to get my father and all the windows started to explode and [there was] smoke and heat and all that everywhere. She just couldn't find them."

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Charles -- nicknamed "Peach" -- served as a captain in World War II and then went on to become a mechanical engineer, according to The Napa Valley Register. In her heyday, Sarah, who KNTV reported was 98 and KTVU reported was 99, looked after the couple's home and enjoyed playing bridge in her spare time.

"Peach and Sara are immensely loved and missed," Gibney told KTVU.

They celebrated their 75th anniversary in March, in the company of their five children. They also have 12 grandchildren and nine children.

"They lived a long life," Mike told ABC. "It was a great life and they were happy right up until the last minute ... And you just have to look at that and just, you know, be happy that that's what happened and they died together and they never wanted to leave each other. So it was almost impossible for any of us to visualize one of them dying first."

Sources: KNTV, KTVU, Napa Valley Register, CNN, ABC / Featured Image: U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr / Embedded Images: Mike Rippey via ABC News

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