Andover couple engaged in aftermath of house fire

With their Andover home lying in ruins behind them, smoldering from the fire that had just been put out, Kyle Savelkoul got down on one knee, held out a ring a firefighter had pried from a melted box and asked for his girlfriend Cheryl Bessette to marry him.

Kyle Savelkoul and Cheryl Bessette embrace after becoming engaged. June 14 began as a tragic day when their Andover home started on fire. Submitted photo

Kyle Savelkoul and Cheryl Bessette embrace after becoming engaged. June 14 began as a tragic day when their Andover home started on fire. Submitted photo

Overwhelmed with emotions, Cheryl started crying. She said yes and they embraced as family and firefighters applauded.

“After all that, at least we had a happy ending,” Cheryl said on the phone June 25 as she and her fiance were preparing to board a plane to Montana to visit her family.

Fittingly, the proposal fell on their 20-month dating anniversary. Cheryl, 26, did not help Kyle, 29, pick out the ring, but she knew he would pop the big question at any moment. She just did not know when or where.

Kyle planned to ask Cheryl’s father for permission during the trip to Montana and then find a scenic overlook in Glacier National Park while they were hiking.

When a discarded cigarette butt from a roommate started the accidental fire around 3 a.m. June 14 at the home in the 13300 block of Martin Street, the only thing on everyone’s mind was getting out safely. Nobody was hurt, according to Andover Fire Chief Jerry Streich.

Once the fire was out and firefighters were cleaning up, district chief Matt Kohout said Kyle’s father asked him if he could get his son’s engagement ring out of the glove box of Kyle’s car. Kohout and three other Andover firefighters pried open the burnt-out car passenger door with a crowbar and hammer. The ring box was melted, so Kohout pried it open with a knife.

Kyle was unsure if the timing was right for a proposal, but his parents, two brothers and Cheryl’s sister supported the idea.

Cheryl saw Kyle and other family talking to firefighters, but did not suspect what was coming until she saw the firefighters try to get into the car and Kohout bringing out the melted ring box.

“It was kind of cool,” Kohout said of seeing this proposal, which Cheryl said happened around 8 a.m., about five hours after they had escaped the home.

Matt Kohout, Andover district fire chief, had to pry open the melted ring box with a knife, but the ring itself was in good condition.

Matt Kohout, Andover district fire chief, had to pry open the melted ring box with a knife, but the ring itself was in good condition.

Cheryl and Kyle are still working on a date and location for the wedding, but anticipate it will be in the fall of 2015. Planning a wedding is a big task and they also have the unique circumstance of having to recover from a house fire. They are now living with Kyle’s mother in Blaine.

Kyle graduated from Blaine High School in 2003. As a senior, he was the placekicker on the 2002 Bengals’ football team that advanced to the Section 7AAAA championship game.

Cheryl lived in Boston until her family moved to Aitkin when she was 5 years old. The 2006 Aitkin High School graduate later met Kyle through a friend. She has a degree in nursing from Bemidji State and he has a double business major from Winona State.

“Hopefully the ring is a symbol that our marriage can survive even the worst of times,” Kyle said. “It was literally like finding a diamond in the rough.”

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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