Yarnell residents return home after evacuation

July 08, 2013

Hundreds of people who were forced out of Yarnell are returning home Monday after a wildfire forced them to flee for safety more than a week ago. Vehicles lined up along the highway into Yarnell well before the evacuation order was lifted at 9 a.m. Monday. Each resident had to present identification containing their addresses to gain access to the area.

Once in town, they saw a landscape drastically different than they remembered. Small shops that sell antiques, saddles and groceries are still intact, but more than 100 homes were destroyed, many reduced to ashes.

Officials are urging residents to boil their water before drinking it. The Yarnell Water Improvement Association said there is no known contamination, but that the boil advisory is being issued because the water system lost pressure due to the recent wildfire. The association said it expects to receive results from water sample testing Tuesday.

Residents are advised to boil water for at least three minutes before using it for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth or preparing or washing food. The association also said it is banning high-volume usage such as watering landscape or washing vehicles.

For those residents coming home and heading in from Wickenburg, a highway sign marking 19 miles to Yarnell is another reminder of what was lost. 19 firefighters died battling the blaze. A memorial service for them is planned in Prescott Tuesday with Vice President Joe Biden scheduled to attend.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.