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Group offers tour to raise money for Yarnell recovery

YARNELL, Ariz. - It's been three months since the Yarnell Hill Fire killed 19 firefighters and destroyed 127 buildings.

Now, Yarnell residents are trying to rebuild, and they need to raise money to do it.

"We get no funds from FEMA," said Marina Rauh of the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group. "It's because we're too small. We didn't have a big enough disaster. Not enough homes were burned, and we only had 12 uninsured homes, so we have to raise the money ourselves."

The group is hoping to do just that by organizing tours of the town on Saturday, Oct. 19, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For $25 dollars, anyone can visit the six burned homes and the fire-damaged St. Joseph Shrine. The tours start at the Yarnell Community Center.

"There will be coffee and pastries, and we'll give you a map to send you on your way," Rauh said. "We also have two vans (to transport visitors), in case you don't want to drive."

Rauh says visitors won't believe the damage.

"There'll be two houses standing and one gone, and two gone and three standing," said Rauh. "It's just very odd and very capricious the way that fire went."

Rauh did not say how much money is needed or how much the group expects to raise from the tours.

Reservations can be made by sending a check to the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group, P.O. Box 275, Yarnell, AZ 85362. Your name will be added to the will-call list, if you write "Home Tour" on the check's memo line.

Visitors can call 1-928-427-6595 for more information.

Donations can also be made online at Yarnell Hill Recovery Group.

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Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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