PHOENIX — The Yarnell Hill Recovery Group celebrated a milestone Monday: The ninth and final replacement home has gone up for uninsured residents who lost everything during last year’s deadly wildfire.
“To see the smiles on people’s faces and knowing you’re helping them is just a wonderful feeling,” group chairman Chuck Tidey said.
Tidey said most of the uninsured couldn’t get homeowners insurance before the big fire.
“They (the homes) were built back in the ’20s or ’30s when they had no building codes or inspections and insurance companies would come out and look at them and say, ‘I can’t insure this.'”
Tidey said they had money donated specifically to help the uninsured, including $100,000 from one Phoenix family. Help from the United Way and other donations increased their pool to about $2 million.
The next phase for the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group is to help the help 37 homeowners who qualify as underinsured. He estimated each will receive $10,000.
“Our main effort has been to get homes back on the tax rolls to support other things like the fire district and the school district,” he said.
After helping homeowners, the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group plans to create a memorial park within the town.
The lightning-sparked Yarnell Hill Fire is the deadliest in Arizona history, killing 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. More than 100 homes and 8,000 acres were destroyed.