Wildfires Blaze Through Idaho

What started as a lightning fire on August 7th has blossomed in to a 144 square mile inferno, burning steadily in Hailey & Ketchum, Idaho. Just west of the towns, 30 mph wind fueled fire has blazed through timber and heat dried bushes in the mountains. 700  firefighters work tirelessly to try to tame and extinguish the very large threat on Friday and hundreds more were to arrive Saturday.  Over 1600 residences at the Sun Valley Resort  have been issued a mandatory evacuation. A spot normally used for vacations’ for celebrities such as Tom Hanks and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But fortunately, the smoke that had been too heavy and forced helicopters back on the ground Saturday morning, cleared enough to let helicopters and an enormous DC-10 tanker to make drops that afternoon. Firefighters also were able to get the Patch Springs fire, of fifty square miles, twenty percent contained midday Saturday.

Idaho’s, Bear Creek fire grew to 15 miles on Friday and Saturday morning, moving closer to subdivisions’ and homes in the mountains just west and north of the communities of Sun Valley Resort, Ketchum and Hailey. “The fire is obliterating everything, “ Spokeswoman Madonna Legerich said, “The fire is just to hot, it is reducing even the tallest trees to ash.” Bear Creek fire has claimed one residence, bunkhouse and six other buildings since being lightning lit.

County Sheriff Gene Ramsey has expanded evacuation zones to include residents of North Ketchum, a population area of 2,700. An animal shelter on the west side of Hailey was ravaged by the flames. “Fortuately,” said Sheriff Ramsey, “all the animals had been evacuated before the fire reached them.” He says now the task is to keep the fire from crossing to the east side of the highway that links the three towns together, and is the only developed road out of the Valley.

Firefighters are working against several elements to try to extinguish the fire, the heat from both the fire and the sun have been doing their best to work against the firefighters. Wind speeds are fluctuating from the 30 mph to faster. Flames have also raced through Willow Spring about 60 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, residents have been forced to evacuate their homes.

“It was a good day from the perspective that no lives were lost and we’ve had no injuries,” fire spokeswoman Lucie Bond said. “Firefighters and other volunteers have been going home to home lowering the risk. We’re simply not going to just leave homes undefended.”

Only a small handful of business opened, “I’ve never seen it like this,” Sawtooth Club manager, Dale Byington  said Saturday morning, “The only reason I opened was to give people a place to come, maybe have some food or something to drink. But that’s not going to happen.” Sawtooth was closed Saturday afternoon due to the lack of business.

Fire Officials were hoping that due to the estimated lower temperatures for Sunday, the firefighters would have a slightly better chance on getting a handle on the blaze.

written by: KyAuna Alonzo

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