Rebuilt homes for the uninsured dedicated in Yarnell - Tucson News Now


Rebuilt homes for the uninsured dedicated in Yarnell


It was an evening of healing and beauty in Yarnell Friday night.

Nearly six months after a wildfire ravaged this community, some of the people who lost their homes are getting ready to move in to new ones.

"Ecstatic," said Steve Keehner as he gazed at his new home decorated with Christmas lights.

"Yes, [I am] just blown away," said his wife Debi Keehner.

The Keehners have lived in Yarnell for more than 40 years.

They're one of 10 uninsured homeowners whose houses are being rebuilt thanks to hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group.

"But, that's just for the materials," said Francis Lechner with YHRC. "The labor has been done by volunteer groups: Apostolic Christian World Relief, Mennonite Disaster Services and the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief."

Since September, many other volunteers from around the country have come to Yarnell to give displaced residents a helping hand – which warms the hearts of folks this small, mountain community.

They couldn't help but sing with joy as they turned the Christmas lights on a Patty Cooper's new home Friday night.

"There's this amazing amount of love and generosity, and this town was ready to receive it," Cooper said.

As Yarnell begins to recover and rebuild, they do so with heavy hearts for the 19 fallen Granite Mountain Hot Shots. The displaced families also do so with an enormous amount of gratitude for the support they've received from strangers.

"I never dreamed we would have a home this nice," said Debi Keehner. "And, I'm just so eternally grateful and hope we can repay it some way down the road."

YHRG said some of the homes will be move-in ready just in time for Christmas.

The rest should be complete by the end of January. 

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