Fallen Granite Mountain Hotshot William Warneke had barely made a dent in the remodel of a mobile home he and his wife, Roxanne, recently purchased on four acres on a dirt road in Avra Valley when he was called to fight the Yarnell Hill Fire near Prescott.
They were just starting to make the bright, spacious double-wide feel like a home. They bought it in April, the same month he joined the hotshot crew.
A few family photographs hang from the walls, along with a shadow box displaying the medals Warneke earned during his four years in the Marine Corps, which included a tour in Iraq. But many of their belongings are still boxed up throughout the home.
About two weeks before heading to the wildfire, Warneke, 25, had just tackled the first big project, installing new tile in hues of beige in the master bathroom.
The gloves and tools he used lie on a counter ripped from the bathroom and now sitting in the master bedroom amid other odds and ends. Cardboard covers holes in the bathroom floor, and the walls are stripped to the insulation.
There's still the mold situation that needs to be taken care of, and plumbing and electrical work to complete.
The couple, whose first child is expected in December, also dreamed of planting a vegetable garden in their backyard.
Firefighters from agencies across Southern Arizona, volunteers from Victory Assembly of God and other community members and businesses have jumped on board to help complete the work Warneke was unable to complete before he and 18 other members of the elite firefighting crew were killed while battling a blaze near Yarnell on June 30.
Dan Klement, a captain with the Golder Ranch Fire District and president of the North Tucson Firefighters Association, was chosen to be the family liaison for the Warneke family and decided to coordinate the remodeling project after touring the home with Warneke's wife.
Klement said she told him it was the couple's dream lot, and that they bought the home as a foreclosure and knew a lot of work would be needed.
"Bill had been tearing things apart and found some mold, and she walked me around the property and told me all the things Bill wanted to do, and I finally just looked at her and said, 'We got this, let us take this,'" Klement said.
So, he began making calls and seeking donations.
"Firefighters need this to grieve ... when something's wrong we want to go out and work and make it better," Klement said. "Unfortunately, we can't bring William Warneke back, but this is all we got. This is part of our grieving, to look at Roxy, tell her 'We got this,' that's what we do."
About 60 to 70 people have already volunteered to be part of the project, but Klement estimates a couple hundred are needed to work on a complete remodel of the couple's home. He hopes to complete the work within six days, starting Aug. 12.
The Marines have plans to build a memorial for Warneke in the backyard that includes a big flagpole, benches, a patio, a plaque and possibly a rose garden
"So as the child grows up, it's got a place to go remember who his or her dad was," Klement said.
AAA Landscape has agreed to take care of the front and backyards.
Other plans include gutting the house and replacing windows to take care of any mold, building a deck around the house and installing a security system.
The project is a huge undertaking, and any and all donations of services, time and supplies from large companies or community members will help the Warneke family, said Capt. Adam Goldberg, a spokesman for Northwest Fire District.
Between $6,000 and $7,000 in cash donations have been made to a bank account for the family, he said.
That's just a fraction of the $100,000 Klement estimates will be needed for the remodel.
"We want to let the community know what's happening out here, and we're gonna draw from as many people as we can to make this project happen, and we're gonna try and give Roxy the dream house that her and Bill had planned to build here," Klement said.
On StarNet: Track the worst Arizona wildfires over recent years at timeline.azstarnet.com/wildfire
How to help
Cash donations can be made to the William Warneke Memorial Fund, account number 6638768264 at any Wells Fargo Branch.
Contact Dan Klement at 979-2658 or email@example.com to volunteer or donate supplies or services.
IF YOU GO
• What: A National Guard helicopter will bring William "Billy" Warneke's remains from Prescott to Marana Northwest Regional Airport, 11700 W. Avra Valley Road, at 2:15 p.m. Wednesday.
The casket will be transferred to a Prescott Fire Department engine, which will lead a 3:15 p.m. procession to the Marana Mortuary & Cemetery, 12146 W. Barnett Road.
• Procession: The route is west on West Avra Valley Road to North Sanders Road, north on Sanders to West Moore Road, east on Moore to North Sandario Road, north on Sandario to West Barnett Road, west on Barnett to the mortuary.
• Services: 4 p.m. outdoors at Marana Mortuary & Cemetery. The public is encouraged to view the procession and pay final respects along the route to the mortuary because space is limited for the services.
Contact reporter Veronica Cruz at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 573-4224.