Yarnell evacuees may be able to return as soon as this weekend

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

YARNELL, Ariz. -- New images of the disaster zone show the extent of devastation caused by the deadly Yarnell Hill Fire.  As community members mourn the 19 hotshots killed, they’re also dealing with loss of property. The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office reports about 129 structures destroyed at 114 addresses.

“It’s like this place is gone, trees still standing,” Nancy Myers said, looking at aerial footage from 3TV.

Myers, along with dozens of other evacuees, has been staying at the Yavapai College Red Cross Shelter.

“It’s the hardest thing I ever had to do, was pack up and walk away,” Myers said.

Myers received confirmation on Wednesday that her home on Highway 89 near downtown Yarnell is safe.

“From what I understand, Main Street is all OK; it’s intact.”

A fire spokesman told 3TV the area west of Highway 89, including neighborhoods like Glen Ilah, was among the areas hardest hit.

Pictures from the ground are difficult to look at.  Dozens of homes were reduced to rubble; others are still standing.

“My family and I have been totally blessed,” said Dianna Stitt, who lives on Shrine Road.  “The people behind me weren’t so lucky.”

Stitt says she believes the statues that are part of the Shrine of St. Joseph are OK.

On Wednesday, the Yavapai Sheriff’s Office compiled a list of the 114 addresses lost in the fire.  A special hotline has been set up for residents to call during business hours -- 928-777-7481.

While some residents have already learned the conditions of their homes, others are still waiting to find out.  Evacuees may be able to return as soon as this weekend, according to a spokesman.

“They’ve been preparing us for what to expect,” Myers said.  “It’s a disaster area.”

It's a  disaster area marked with tragedy, uncertainty and a long road ahead.

“I don’t want to go through this again,” Myers said.