YARNELL — The deadly Yarnell Hill fire that killed 19 firefighters and caused heavy property loss in Yarnell also damaged the Shrine of St. Joseph of the Mountains. The shrine has been a Yarnell landmark since it was built in the 1940s by the Wasson family. Tucson artist Felix Lucero had to develop a slow-setting concrete that would allow workers to haul it across a rock-strewn hill so he could sculpt it into statues.
St. Joseph was the original subject, and when that statue was completed, the family retained Lucero to create several others depicting the life of Jesus Christ. The sculptures were placed among huge granite boulders, and irregular stairways were anchored to the slope.
But the fire destroyed the wooden cross in a Crucifixion scene, most of the wooden stairs, handrails and seven buildings, including the gift shop.
“We need to raise funds so that the Shrine of St. Joseph can continue to provide a peaceful place for reflection,” Arizona Oddities reader Vicki Velasquez wrote.