Yarnell Hill Fire: Evacuees return to homes, rubble - CBS46 News

Yarnell Hill Fire: Evacuees return to homes, rubble

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YARNELL, AZ (CBS5) -

More than a week ago, hundreds living in Yarnell were told to evacuate. Some were given just minutes to leave their homes on the mountain as the Yarnell Hill Fire swept through their town and killed 19 firefighters.

Now, those displaced by the fire are allowed to return home. Many didn't know what to expect.

"I didn't fall apart like I thought I would, which is amazing," Stacy Pizzirusso said.

Pizzirusso was one of many who already knew the fate of her home after seeing images of her destroyed property online and on television.

As she returned home, she not only saw the damage to her home but the destruction to her neighborhood.

"It took one home down to nothing and then two or three would be standing," she said. "You can't even tell there was a fire there."

Others returned to their homes to find them unharmed. Karen Patterson sent pictures of her house with little damage but the photos also show how close the wildfire was before burning out.

"The fire came right up to the wooden deck," Patterson wrote in a text message.

Her yard was burned and her cars and home suffered some smoke and heat damage, but she says it could have been worse.

In another text message, she attached a picture of the St. Mary Mission on Highway 89 near one of the most heavily burned areas.

The church still stands, unscathed by the flames.

"This is where I stood praying in terror as the fire overwhelmed my neighborhood," she wrote.

Nineteen firefighters lost their lives saving that community. Despite lost homes and damaged property, no one else was seriously injured.

The main road to Yarnell remains closed to the public. It's open only to residents of Yarnell and emergency responders. The side roads where most of the damage occurred will remain closed to the public as the community rebuilds what was destroyed in just hours.

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