Couple’s love sparked by Angora Fire |

Couple’s love sparked by Angora Fire

Dylan Silver
Provided to the Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Good things can spark from bad situations. Monica and Brian Shea’s love story is proof.

In 2007, Monica Shea was part of a Salvation Army disaster relief team that responded to the Angora Fire. She set about the community helping people cope with the tragedy.

As she grew close to residents of the burn area, the trauma from the fire began to ease. She soon had to return to her home in Long Beach, but she promised her new friends she’d come back and ski in the area.

“We shared all these memories and stories,” Monica Shea said of her new friends. “This community just kind of touched my heart.”

She didn’t realize that her return visit would whirl her into a relationship, a happy marriage and a move to South Lake Tahoe. On Valentine’s Day, the couple remembered the coincidences that brought them together.

Brian Shea had been visiting the Lake Tahoe area to ski for years. In March, 2008, he was celebrating being hired as full-time tugboat captain in Long Beach with a few runs at Heavenly Mountain Resort.

The gondola area was bustling and he was itching to get to the top of the mountain. Brian Shea dodged around a family being herded into a gondola car, and slid into the next one ahead, where he thought he saw a girl sitting alone.

“We’ve since noticed that they’ve gotten better security around the gondola,” Brian Shea said.

Monica Shea had finally made it back to the Lake Tahoe area. After skiing all morning on the west end of the California side, she decided to check out the gondola.

“As we’re going around, I saw this guy jump around the attendant and throw his skis in my gondola car,” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh boy, here we go.'”

The two got to talking and found they both lived in Long Beach. They skied the rest of the day together, poking around the mountain and enjoying Heavenly’s views. They exchanged email addresses and decided to see each other again. Within two years, they were planning their wedding for the Lake Tahoe area.

Brian Shea transferred to a two-weeks-on, two-weeks-off position on a boat in the San Francisco Bay and Monica Shea switched jobs to a work-at-home career. He bought a condo at Heavenly and convinced her to make the move.

“It’s been a dream ever since,” Monica Shea said. “Who knew it would work out that way.”

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