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Group formed to aid Yarnell community recovery

PHOENIX -- A new group will assist the community affected by the Yarnell Hill Fire as it undergoes the rebuilding and recovery process.

The Yarnell Hill Recovery Group is composed of community leaders who are volunteering their time to help their residents restore order to their lives.

"About 20 people gathered together by phone and around the kitchen table, began talking, set up a steering committee, set up a kind of initial committee structure and we've been working ferociously since then," said Frances Lechner, who represents the Yarnell Hill Fire Department board in the recovery group.

Lechner said the group will work to distribute resources for emergency housing, financial assistance, medical treatment, cleanup and contractor referral.

"We're already a tightly-knit community and this is bringing us even closer together," she said. "People who have lost their homes are working on this committee to help other people, so it's just very, very moving."

According to the group, the average age of a community member is 64 and a majority live on an income less than $16,000 per year.

Lechner said the group will do its best to work with numerous non-profit groups that have raised, in total, hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure that the funds are distributed where they are most needed.

For more information about the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group, click here.

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About the Author

Martha is the traffic controller in the KTAR newsroom. Her full time role is that of Assignment and Breaking News Editor of KTAR News. She oversees daily Breaking News planning and over-the air execution, and puts together the elements that make it happen. She gathers and distributes daily news assignments to reporters and editors. She also reports on a daily basis, anchors news afternoons 1-2p and fills in as anchor occasionally during other time slots. She began working at KTAR in the winter of 2012 as Desk Editor and was promoted to oversee Assignments and Breaking News in 2014. During that time, she received two awards as a journalist. The first was the 2013 APTRA Awards, where she took home 2nd place for Best Serious Future in the "Recycled Orchestra." The second was a 2014 Edward R. Murrow Award for her collaboration in KTAR's Voice for a Better Arizona Series: Immigration - seeking solutions. In her piece, Martha profiled two Arizona sisters looking for the DREAM. Martha was born in Mazatlan, Mexico. She moved to Arizona in 1996 with her parents and younger sister and has lived here since. She attended Barry Goldwater High School in Phoenix and graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University in Tempe. Prior to working at KTAR news she worked in news and production at Univision Arizona in Phoenix. She also supervised the marketing, catering and public relations department at Hotel Araiza, 5-star hotel in Mexicali, Mexico. She has also been a personal trainer and aerobics instructor. When she isn't in the newsroom or behind the microphone Martha is an avid gym-goer and marathoner. She trains for two races a year and enjoys taking group exercise classes, such as kickboxing, indoor cycling and weight lifting. Martha is married and lives in Surprise, AZ with 2 dogs, Tasha and Elsa, and a cat, Sammy.


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