Home destroyed in Camp Fire but coin collection found and restored

Joseph Best safe Paradise California Camp Fire
Joseph Best’s photo of his safe that stored his coin collection.

One of the 14,000 homes and businesses that burned in the Camp Fire at Paradise California in November belonged to Joseph Best. During the month evacuated residents were kept out of the burn area he worried about his coin collection that was stored in a “fire proof” safe. When finally allowed back, he found it in the ashes of his home, tipped on its side.

The video below tells the story of how Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, a company that cleans, grades, and packages coins for collectors, extracted Mr. Best’s coins from the melted holders, graded them, and reinstalled the coins in new holders — all at no charge.

Note about “fire proof” safes. The term is misleading. Safes have different levels of fire resistance. Some have more insulating characteristics than others, but if exposed to high enough heat for an extended period of time even the best may allow the inside temperature to rise high enough to damage the contents. Various organizations rate fire resistant safes for time and temperature, for example half an hour at 1,550 degrees, 1 hour at 1,700 degrees, or 2 hours at 1,500 degrees.
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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.