When Rick Smith retired from the St. Louis Rams after last season, after three decades in media relations with the Rams, Chargers and Golden State Warriors, he planned on building an office in the four-bedroom San Diego-area home he and his wife, Susie, had bought in 1977 for $82,000.
With the home now valued at $700,000 and a collection of sports memorabilia worth at least $50,000, Smith figured his golden years would be comfortable.
In his collection, he had Rose Bowl programs going back to the 1930s, Pacific Coast League baseball cards from the 1940s and all sorts of things Super Bowl-related, from programs to trophies to rings to signed jerseys.
The Smiths, though, had to evacuate last Sunday when the flames came too close.
They were able to take only a Super Bowl ring and trophy. When they returned, all was ash.
"When you come back after an earthquake, the chimneys have been toppled, but everything else is often still standing," Rick said. "After a fire, everything else is toppled, but the chimney remains because it's made of brick.