Families of fallen AZ Hot Shot firefighters help rebuild Yarnell - Tucson News Now

Families of fallen AZ Hot Shot firefighters help rebuild Yarnell

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PRESCOTT, AZ (CBS5) -

The deadly fire at Yarnell Hill claimed 19 lives, more than a hundred homes, and caused thousands of dollars in damage. Four months later, Leah Fine says there's a beacon of hope.

"To see that they're going through some rough stuff, too, brings us together," Fine said.

Fine was engaged to Grant McKee, one of the 19 Granite Mountain Hot Shots killed trying to keep a wildfire from spreading into town. They were expected to get married this summer.

"It's not a place you drive through on your way to California anymore," Fine said of Yarnell.

The town used to be just a dot on the map, but now, it's a reminder of the men who lost their lives.

Altogether, the families of those firefighters have raised more than $8 million from donations and charities. On Sunday alone, they helped raise $18,000, but that money, they say, will help rebuild the town of Yarnell. Heather Kennedy's boyfriend was Scott Norris, another Hot Shot fighting to keep Yarnell safe.

"They were the kind of guys who said, 'We want to help,' and we [the Hot Shot families] want to continue that," Kennedy said.

The Sunday fundraiser held in Prescott benefits the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group, which has raised a half-million dollars thus far that will rebuild about a dozen homes and rewire Yarnell's infrastructure, which took a hit during the blaze.

"Yarnell is a very special place," the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group's Frances Lechner said. "It will become even more so now."

For many families who live in Yarnell, it was the first time meeting the families and friends of the Hot Shot firefighters.

"There's a lot of respect for them," Lechner said. "To learn that [the families] wanted to help, it's wonderful."

To rebuild the town and have a vibrant new community rise from the ashes of a devastating wildfire, Lechner said that would be the best way to memorialize the men who died trying to save it.

For more on this story and other stories around Arizona from this author, follow Shawn Kline on Facebook and Twitter.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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