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Yarnell showing rebuilding spirit during holidays

PHOENIX — Signs of recovery have some Yarnell residents getting into the Christmas mood.

They plan to sing the song “I’ll be Home for Christmas” at Friday afternoon’s dedication of the first six homes to be rebuilt after last June’s massive Yarnell Hill fire.

The public will have the chance to tour the homes starting at 3:30 p.m., followed by the dedication at 5:30. The homes have Christmas lights that will be turned on during the dedication.

Yarnell Hill Recovery Group Director Chuck Tidey said this is a sign that Yarnell is making a comeback.

“It let’s everybody know that we’re on the road to recovery,” he said.

The recovery group used donated funds and volunteers to build five of the homes for uninsured homeowners. The sixth home was built for an insured homeowner by Yarnell Homes, the town’s newest business.

In addition to the home tour, the Yarnell Chamber of Commerce will host a holiday lighting competition Sunday.

“We’ve got three categories,” said Tidey. “The first is personal homes for Yarnell and Glen Ilah. The second is for Peeples Valley and the third category is Commercial Businesses.”

The winners get a $100 gift certificate from local businesses, while the runners up get gift baskets from those businesses.

Tidey said that the area is making an amazing recovery after the fire.

“We had 122 homes burned. Right now, we’ve got at least 18 in the process of being rebuilt. That’s 15 percent over five and a half months,” he said. “It’s an unheard of pace, from what I’ve been told by state and county emergency management people.”