Yarnell rebuilding homes lost to wildfire in June

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By Erin Kennedy By Erin Kennedy
By Erin Kennedy By Erin Kennedy
By Erin Kennedy By Erin Kennedy
By Erin Kennedy By Erin Kennedy

Yarnell, Ariz. -- The Yarnell Hill Fire, which claimed the lives of 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots, also destroyed 126 homes in Yarnell, Glen Ilah, and Peeples Valley.

Of those lost homes, 11 were uninsured and on Monday, September 30, the rebuilding of two of those homes began.

"What did you find when you returned?"  3TV asked Debi Keehner, a Yarnell resident who lost her home to the fire.

"Total destruction, everything was gone," she said of her home of more than 40 years.

Debi's husband, Steve Keehner, was raised in the home that was destroyed. His childhood bedroom became the bedroom of his daughter as she grew up. Losing their home was made harder by the fact it wasn't insured.

"The man who built our house should never have been allowed to have a hammer in his hand,"  Steve said. 

Because the home was originally only supposed to be a summer cabin when built in the 1930s, it didn't pass present building codes and the Keehner's were unable to find a company that would sell them insurance.

However, due to donations of more than $500,000 received by the Yarnell Recovery Group, work has begun on new homes for both the Keehners and their neighbors, who also lost their home to the flames.

On Monday, 15 volunteers from the Apostolic Christian World Relief provided needed labor to get the new homes up and running, hopefully by the time the snow falls in Yarnell.

Steve and Debi are amazed that so many people would pitch in to help them after losing so much.  Debi said that one of the only things spared by the flames was her grandmother's beloved Bible.

"It didn't get burnt.  All the other books did, but it didn't," Debi said as she lovingly cradled the Bible while work on her new home continued.