Historic Yarnell shrine slowly rebuilding 1 year after wildfire - KCTV5 News

Historic Yarnell shrine slowly rebuilding 1 year after wildfire

Posted: Updated:
© CBS 5 News © CBS 5 News
YARNELL, AZ (CBS5) -

Piece by piece, a group of Catholic families built the Shrine of Saint Joseph of the Mountains back in 1939. It was almost entirely lost in the Yarnell Hill fire some 74 years later. 

So step-by-step, Maria Luisa Wasson is making sure the town's most well-known tourist attraction remains open.

"All of this was covered in soot," said Wasson.

"Everything?" asked CBS 5 New's Greg Argos.

"Everything. Everything. You could not walk here. It was like walking in a chimney," she responded. 

Wasson, whose husband's family opened the shrine during the Great Depression was working in the gift shop on June 30, 2013. She recalls seeing smoke in the distance and being worried about having to evacuate, but firefighters had told her she had time.

"(Emergency officials) said, 'You have four hours to leave. Get ready.' Fifteen minutes later, they said, 'Now.'"

When Wasson returned to the shrine 10 days later, she realized how badly damaged it was. The main source of donations, the gift shop, was destroyed. Three retreat center buildings were also damaged.

"Donations have been diminished," she said.

In addition, many of the handrails throughout the shrine were burned. The 14 stations of the cross that make up the shrine were darkened and dirty.

"Everything was black," said Wasson.

She said the only thing that appeared untouched by the flames, spotless in fact, was Jesus on the crucifix.

"It didn't have any smoke. We didn't have to wash it or paint it or anything. It was like someone was protecting it. It was amazing," recalled Wasson. 

Now, Wasson is hoping to get the shrine back to it's pre-fire condition. Volunteers have already helped clean much of it, but the structures that were lost have not been rebuilt. She hopes to start with the first of the buildings in July.

"The shrine has been here almost 75 years with no dollar paid. Nothing. Just by faith. So we have to have faith just somehow we'll be able to do it," she said.

If you'd like to donate, click here for information.

[Related: 74-year-old shrine badly damaged in Yarnell Fire]

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

  • Historic Yarnell shrine slowly rebuilding 1 year after wildfireMore>>

  • Sidebar: Yarnell Hill Fire

    Wildfires

    Thursday, December 19 2013 8:02 PM EST2013-12-20 01:02:20 GMT
    SPECIAL SECTION SLIDESHOWS VIDEOS RESOURCESMore >
    SPECIAL SECTION SLIDESHOWS VIDEOS RESOURCESMore >
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Royals GM on Luke Heimlich: "We're still gathering information"

    Royals GM on Luke Heimlich: "We're still gathering information"

    Sunday, June 24 2018 9:19 PM EDT2018-06-25 01:19:37 GMT
    Kansas City Royals General Manager Dayton MooreKansas City Royals General Manager Dayton Moore
    Kansas City Royals General Manager Dayton MooreKansas City Royals General Manager Dayton Moore
    The Kansas City Royals acknowledged this week they are considering signing Oregon State pitcher Luke Heimlich, who in 2012 pleaded guilty to sexually molesting a 6-year-old member of his family.  Kansas City Royals General Manager Dayton Moore called the matter a "complex issue" and the Royals are still gathering facts.  "We're still gathering information and we're gathering facts," Moore said. "We feel like we know the player well. It's tough on t...More >
    The Kansas City Royals acknowledged this week they are considering signing Oregon State pitcher Luke Heimlich, who in 2012 pleaded guilty to sexually molesting a 6-year-old member of his family.  Kansas City Royals General Manager Dayton Moore called the matter a "complex issue" and the Royals are still gathering facts.  "We're still gathering information and we're gathering facts," Moore said. "We feel like we know the player well. It's tough on t...More >
  • Semi truck falls 60 feet off of I-670, I-70 in KCK

    Semi truck falls 60 feet off of I-670, I-70 in KCK

    Sunday, June 24 2018 9:41 PM EDT2018-06-25 01:41:16 GMT
    (Drone5)(Drone5)

    Emergency crews are on scene after a semi-truck went off an overpass on Interstate 670 and Interstate 70 in KCK.

    More >

    Emergency crews are on scene after a semi-truck went off an overpass on Interstate 670 and Interstate 70 in KCK.

    More >
  • Missing 15-year-old found; walks into police station unhurt

    Missing 15-year-old found; walks into police station unhurt

    Saturday, June 23 2018 11:10 PM EDT2018-06-24 03:10:12 GMT
    Picture of Sledge and the person of interest.Picture of Sledge and the person of interest.

    Brajean Sledge has been found. She walked into a KCPD station unhurt. She is currently talking with police. Anthony King still remains a person of interest. 

    More >

    Brajean Sledge has been found. She walked into a KCPD station unhurt. She is currently talking with police. Anthony King still remains a person of interest. 

    More >
Powered by Frankly
KCTV 5 News

Online Public File:
KCTV  KSMO

Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2018, KCTV; Kansas City, MO. (A Meredith Corporation Station) . All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.