Elderly Couple Dies Together After Hiding in Wine Cellar During Deadly California Wildfires

Arthur and Suiko Grant spent most of their lives together in their hilltop property in Santa Rosa, California.

Situated on Mark West Springs Road, the elderly couple’s home of over 45 years is also where they spent their last day together when the Tubbs Fire reached their house on Monday.

The couple’s daughter, Trina Grant, told the New York Times that her parents did not have the chance to evacuate as they were sleeping when the wildfire reached the property.

“My dad’s best friend was calling and calling my parents, but they were completely asleep,” she was quoted as saying. “By the time my dad finally picked up and his friend said ‘You’ve got to get out,’ it was probably already too late.”

According to the SFGate, the couple had taken their small pet dog before seeking refuge in the wine cellar of their home as the wildfire engulfed thousands of structures in the city on that day. Arthur, a retired airline captain, was 95, while his Japanese American wife Suiko was 75.

A post shared by Trina Grant (@trinavera) on

In an interview with SFGate, Trina shared that the couple maintained a hobby vineyard and numerous fruit trees on the property before it was burned down by the wildfire.

A Meyer lemon, which Trina had picked from one of her parents’ trees earlier this month, “is now the only remaining part of their beautiful property,” she laments.

Trina also shared how the then Pan American World Airways pilot met his future wife in Honolulu while on duty.

“It was a true love-at-first-sight story,” Ms. Grant was quoted as saying. “He found the most beautiful gal in the world to marry.”

A post shared by Trina Grant (@trinavera) on

Arthur, who grew up in a family of 13 children at a farm in Point Arena in the 1930s, was trained to become a fighter pilot for the U.S. Navy during World War II. Before he was even allowed to fly in combat, however, the war had already ended. After retiring as a Navy lieutenant, he flew with Pan Am, where he stayed for 25 years.

Suiko, who was born in China and raised in Japan, ended up working for a Japanese company in Hawaii after graduating from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

According to Trina, Arthur was then dating her mom’s roommate, but he eventually became enamored with Suiko after she “stole his heart.”

In honor of the loving couple, their daughters, Tasman and Trina, their granddaughter Sloane, and Arthur’s sister Agnes will be holding a memorial “Grant Paddle Out” on Oct. 27 at Tourmaline Surfing Park in San Diego.

Still burning in several counties in Northern California, the Tubbs Fire has so far incinerated over 2,800 in the city of Santa Rosa alone. With 5% of the city’s housing stock destroyed, the city’s damage was estimated to be at least $1.2 billion.

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