Happy Jack pastor evacuated during Tinder Fire finds ways to help others

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The church is still standing. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The church is still standing. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The Tinder Fire has destroyed several homes. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The Tinder Fire has destroyed several homes. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The pastor and his wife took in three horses belonging to an evacuee, including one that is only 5 days old. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The pastor and his wife took in three horses belonging to an evacuee, including one that is only 5 days old. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
COCONINO COUNTY, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Aerial footage from the Lyons Roofing News Chopper shows several homes damaged. Cavalry Bible Church along the 87 is near the fire. The pastor there opened up his wife's property to people who needed to keep their animals safe.

[VIDEO: Aerial view of homes destroyed by the Tinder Fire]

"Of course we’re all devastated," Rich Crecelius said. "You expect it all the time; you prepare for it but you don’t want it to happen."

His wife, Mary Jo Crecelius, owns property in Clear Creek Pines Unit 2 about 12 miles from the fire. They took in three horses belonging to an evacuee, including one that is only 5 days old. 

"It’s the right thing to do," Mary Jo said. 

[RELATED: Illegal campfire to blame for starting Tinder Fire, investigators say]

[SLIDESHOW: Tinder Fire erupts in Coconino County]

Crecelius evacuated his property in Clear Creek Pines Unit 4. The couple doesn't know what’s happening with his house., but some of their neighbors stayed behind. 

"Monday they said his house was gone," Mary Jo said. "Tuesday morning, we got the information it was there."

The good news is they say they know their church is still standing.

"We have a picture of it shrouded in smoke," Mary Jo said.

So they wait, along with a mare named Abby and a foal named Cheyenne, for word on when they can go back home. 

"Even though it's about 12 miles from here, anything can happen," Crecelius said.

[READ MORE: Communities in northeastern Arizona evacuated for 11,000-acre Tinder Fire]

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Wildfires]


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Lindsey ReiserLindsey Reiser is a Scottsdale native and an award-winning multimedia journalist.

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Lindsey Reiser

Lindsey returned to the Valley in 2010 after covering border and immigration issues in El Paso, TX. While in El Paso she investigated public corruption, uncovered poor business practices, and routinely reported on the violence across the border.

Lindsey feels honored to have several awards under her belt, including a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award, Hearst Journalist Award, and several National Broadcast Education Association Awards.

Lindsey is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and she currently serves as a mentor to journalism students. She studied for a semester in Alicante, Spain and also earned a degree in Spanish at ASU.

She is proud to serve as a member of United Blood Services’ Community Leadership Council, a volunteer advisory board for the UBS of Arizona.

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