After surviving fatal wildfire, local's crucifix to be displayed

Christopher Dornblaser
  • A Dallastown artist's sculpture of a crucifix survived a fatal wildfire in Arizona in 2013.
  • She is sending the crucifix to an Arizona fire department, where it will be displayed.

In June 2013, wildfires raged in Yarnell, Arizona, and destroyed more than 100 homes. It was the same fire that claimed the lives of 19 firefighters belonging to a group known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots.

Artist Lorann Jacobs saws at the area where arms will be added to her cat sculpture at her gallery and home in Dallastown, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

So it came as a surprise to Dallastown resident and artist Lorann Jacobs when she had heard that her sculpted crucifix survived the wildfire that destroyed her brother-in-law's home.

“They lost everything in the fire,” she said.

Now, after deciding the crucifix shouldn't just stay in her drawer at home, Jacobs decided to send it to the Yarnell Fire District for the firefighters to display.

"I thought maybe it would have some meaning to them," she said.

Lorann Jacobs, of Dallastown, holds a crucifix she made over 20 years ago. Jacobs said the crucifix survived a deadly wildfire in Yarnell, Arizona, in June 2013. Photo courtesy Lorann Jacobs.

Yarnell fire: Jacobs reached out to the fire district after Christmas and asked if they would like it. She sent them a letter, and not long after they received it, she got a response.

Denise Roggio, personnel and grants specialist for the fire district, responded to Jacobs, saying the firefighters would love to have it. The crucifix arrived at the fire district last Wednesday.

“We’re totally impressed,” Roggio said Thursday.

The plan for the bronze crucifix, she said, is to have it mounted on a wall in the administration office with an inscription and Jacobs' name on it.

“The fire department is really very happy to have this," she said.

The fire chief, Ben Palm, also was pleased with the acquisition, Roggio said.

“He was thrilled with it," she said.

The 19 firefighters who died were not part of the Yarnell Fire District but rather a section of the Prescott Fire Department, Roggio said.

The wildfire claimed 120 homes and took crews about 10 days to bring under control.

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Crucifix: Roggio said that when the chief saw the crucifix, a local pastor who had helped in the cleanup of the wildfire aftermaths was in the building.

“The chief showed him, and he said 'Oh my goodness, it’s beautiful,'" she said.

The sculpture itself is missing the cross, which Jacobs said likely was lost in the fire. Roggio said it was coincidental because a nearby shrine, which featured religious figures, had a crucifix, and after the wildfires the cross on that was lost as well.

Artist Lorann Jacobs is shown amidst her projects and tools in her gallery and home in Dallastown, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

“To me that really means something,” she said.

Jacobs said she made the crucifix more than 20 years ago to give to her husband's mother. After she passed away, her brother-in-law ended up with it.

In the years since the fire, her brother-in-law  gave the crucifix to her.

“I didn’t even know it was out there,” Jacobs said.

She said she has been showing it at various art shows, but she never wanted to sell it.

“It’s amazing; it should’ve melted," she said. "Maybe it fell off the wall and it was protected.”

As for the display, Roggio said the chief is already talking to some people to have the crucifix hung up and mounted.

"It's in the works," she said.

For those interested in learning more about Jacobs' art, visit​.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.