Hundreds step up to help renovate home of firefighter killed in wildfire

2013-07-14T00:00:00Z 2014-08-05T10:20:26Z Hundreds step up to help renovate home of firefighter killed in wildfireCarmen Duarte Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 14, 2013 12:00 am  • 

On Wednesday, expectant mother Roxanne Warneke buried her husband, William "Billy" Warneke, 25, in Marana.

But thanks to a little help from her friends - and a whole lot of strangers - Roxanne and Billy's dreams to turn the mobile home they purchased as a foreclosure in April into a beautiful home for their unborn baby lives on.

Billy is one of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who died June 30 while battling the Yarnell Hill Fire.

Plans for the renovations to the Warneke home are to be finalized this week with contractors, and the work is to begin Aug. 12, said project spokesman Capt. Adam Goldberg of Northwest Fire District.

Once local firefighters learned that the home - on four acres in rural Avra Valley - needed about $100,000 worth of renovation, they pledged to take on the work Billy had just begun before heading out to battle the wildfire.

Word spread and Southern Arizona firefighers jumped on board to help. So did community volunteers, businesses and builders.

"The response from the community has been overwhelming," Goldberg said. "We have received hundreds of emails and phone calls from individuals, families and businesses who want to participate in this community service."

In addition to $15,000 in cash donations as of Friday afternoon, WSM Architects will assist with plans for the renovation, which includes tearing out and rebuilding interior walls and adding an Arizona Room, Goldberg said.

Electricians, plumbers, drywallers and landscapers have come forth. AAA Landscape has pledged to take care of the front and backyards. Lowe's and Home Depot want to contribute materials, Goldberg said.

Southern Arizona Home Builders Association will coordinate all of the local contractors that have offered equipment, supplies and manpower.

"We were very saddened when we heard the news about the Yarnell Fire and the impact so close to home with the Warneke family," said David Godlewski, president of SAHBA.

"We want to jump in and help out. We will work with the trade groups to make a plan, and move forward to complete Roxanne and William's dreams. This home will become a reality," Godlewski said.

Marines have plans to build a memorial for Billy, a four-year veteran who served a tour in Iraq. They want his child to have a place to go and remember him, said Capt. Dan Klement of the Golder Ranch Fire District and president of the North Tucson Firefighters Association.

The Marines plan to build it in the backyard, and want the memorial to include a plaque, flagpole, benches, a patio, and possibly a rose garden.

It was Klement who initially took on the renovation project, and asked other firefighters to help after recently touring the home with Roxanne, who shared with him all the renovations Billy wanted to do on the property.

"Roxanne is staying with family and plans to remain with family until the renovation is complete," Goldberg said. "Her family is giving her a lot of support."

Warneke Renovation Project

• For information or to make a donation go to www.warnekeproject.org

• If you don't have access to a computer, call Northwest Fire District at 887-1010.

• Cash donations can be made to the William Warneke Memorial Fund, account number 6638768264.

"We were very saddened when we heard the news about the Yarnell Fire and the impact so close to home with the Warneke family."

David Godlewski, president of SAHBA

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at 573-4104 or cduarte@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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