Idaho wildfire burning near Hailey and Ketchum has caused the evacuation of 1,600 homes. According to authorities, the wildfire which his driven by high winds, has burned through trees and other greenery near an Idaho Mountain Resort.
On Friday, the fire spread really fast due to dry ground and high winds of about 30mph. Due to the rapid spread and safety precautions at least a 100 square mile area of Beaver Creek was evacuated.
No less than 600 firefighters were on the job trying to gain control of the fire and safeguard celebrity property. This wealthy resort is the second home to high profile celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis and others. By Friday evening they anticipated help from another 1,000 firefighters.
The flames have already destroyed one home in nearby Blaine County on Thursday night.
A spokesman for the Sun Valley resort, Jack Sibbach, said he too was evacuated on Friday. His home is south of Ketchum. Sibbach said he watched aircraft making runs in 3 minute exchanges dropping water and red retardant in attempts to create barriers to harness the flames.
The resort took precautionary measures by turning on snow cannons to protect lodges on the top of Bald Mountain. Snow cannons are usually reserved for snow making and even though Bald Mountain isn’t in the immediate area of the flame, the winds prompted much concern according to Sibbach.
Fire crews spent all day building fire lines hoping to channel the fire into areas that had been burned in a previous round of wildfires in 2007. The 2007 wildfires destroyed a great portion of the Idaho wilderness.
Private insurance companies sent in crews of their own to assist with structural protection for some of the more expensive homes. They came in and worked alongside the area’s local firefighters and other authorities.
One evacuee, Jane McCann, said the smoke was unbearable. She said it caused many residents to leave before being told. As a result the traffic on Highway 75 was backed up going southbound.
Pre-evacuation orders were already given for Ketchum who has a population of 2,700 and Sun Valley, with about 1,400 people. They were told to be ready because they too may have to leave with minimum notice.
In recent history, as it relates to evacuations, this is one of the worst fires Idaho has seen.
Warnings were issued of risks that new wildfires could break out at any time due to the high winds and low humidity. They were also in place for areas of Utah, Montana and Hawaii.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)