‘Angry’ Idaho fire spreads to 126,000 acres, threatens luxury resort homes

NBC News – by Henry Austin

More than 10,000 homes are threatened by a furious Idaho wildfire, including getaways owned by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis, after an all-out “ground and air attack” failed to stop the blaze spreading to more than 126,000 acres, according to latest reports from the U.S. Forest Service.

“Take your essentials, belongs and pets and GO NOW,” a news release on inciweb warned those in the path of the lightning-sparked Beaver Creek fire.  

Despite an army of more than 1,200 firefighters,  the blaze continues to spread across parched sagebrush, grasslands and pine forests in the Sun Valley area.

“Every fire has a personality, and this fire has an angry personality,” Beth Lund, and incident commander with the U.S. Forest Service team managing the blaze in central Idaho told Reuters.

More than 10,000 homes near the towns of Hailey and Ketchum remain threatened by the blaze, including luxury getaways owned by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis.

The fire that has been burning for more than 12 days, scorching an area larger than the city of Denver, has already forced 2,250 homes into a mandatory evacuation order.

Another 7,700 homes are under what is known as pre-evacuation, giving them time to pack up essential belongings and get ready to go at a moment’s notice if the fire grows closer.

At the Sun Valley Resort, an all-season vacation getaway famed for its world-class skiing, workers turned on water cannons usually used to make snow to wet down a mountain whose southeastern face was the scene of a concentrated assault by firefighters.

“We’ve fired up the snow-making guns,” resort spokesman Jack Sibbach, told The Associated Press.

Red-flag conditions, including higher temperatures and wind gusts up to 38 miles per hour did not help firefighters tackling the blaze. And Kevin Noth, lead meteorologist at Weather.com, said that conditions Monday and Tuesday — including temperatures pushing into the 90s — would continue to “hinder” firefighters.

“There will be more hot and dry weather for the region,” he said.

“So highs will be well into the 80s and a few into the lower 90s. Humidity will also be down, so it will be dry, so that will allow the fire to grow more quickly and it nwill be harder for them to contain.”

“There’s better news coming,” he added. “It looks like more clouds and higher humidity for midweek. There might also be some thunderstorms, which could bring some rain — but the possibility of lightning too.”

Retardant was dropped Sunday on the flank of Bald Mountain — the Sun Valley Resort’s primary ski hill — to reinforce a fire line, fire spokeswoman Shawna Hartman told KTVB.

That meant the famed ski mountain known as “Baldy” and often used in publicity photos would have a red line of retardant visible from Ketchum.

Hartman expressed cautious optimism about their prospects for curtailing the blaze in the next week.

“Today they’re very optimistic that we will reinforce those lines in case the fire does flare up as we saw on Thursday and Friday,”  Hartman told the KTVB.

About 20 Idaho National Guardsmen arrived in Hailey on Sunday to assist sheriff’s deputies with road blocks, the station reported.

The West has already suffered a series of destructive wildfires in 2013. Colorado experienced the most destructive wildfire in its history in June, which killed two and destroyed about 500 structures. As that fire burned, 11 other fires plagued the state and more threatened other parts of the Southwest.

The following month, 19 heavily trained Hotshot firefighters were killed in the Yarnell Hill wildfire in Arizona.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


5 thoughts on “‘Angry’ Idaho fire spreads to 126,000 acres, threatens luxury resort homes

  1. Here’s how the progression leading to this goes:
    1) Fire suppression allows too many tree seedlings to survive.
    2) Trees over-compete with their too-close neighbors for available water.
    3) Low-water stress allows bark beetles access where a healthy tree would have been able to push out the beetle with sap.
    4) Trees go through a massive die-off covering thousands of square miles.
    5) Inevitably, wildfire consumes the dead trees, and there isn’t much we can do to stop it no matter how many millions we spend attempting to do so.

    In 2007 I did a round trip to Minnesota and saw vast expanses of dead trees from this in Idaho, Montana, and Colorado. It was only a matter of time before it burned.

    The only solution is regularly scheduled controlled burns under moderate conditions when fuel loads are still low. It’s going to burn; the only choice is whether that burning will take place on our terms or nature’s. Continuous fire suppression with no controlled burns is an idea which has had its day and proven to be a catastrophic failure. “Firefighting” should not be seasonal work but be converted to a full-time profession with a goal of limiting fuel loads to a safe level. Simultaneously we would need to reform logging practices so we don’t end up with dense stands of small trees in recent clearcuts.

  2. The only reason this fire is getting MSM coverage is the fact it involves Elitist dwellings & structures. To the west, the Elk Complex Fire is a lot bigger & near Boise. In the middle there is the Mccan Fire that has the possibility of merging with the Beaver Creek Fire. The losses & costs are huge.

    I know the Fire Chief at Sun Valley, The owners let undergrowth grow right up to the sides of the structures & have driveways that are death traps for Fire Responders & their apparatus. Hose lays of 300 feet up driveway hills are not uncommon. The home owners take no responsibility of providing defensive zones around structures. When asked to remove undergrowth, the owners bitch to the City & County about the Fire Chief harassing them.

    I’m sucking the smoke from those fires right now. There are a lot of fires in Idaho that are not even listed on the National Incident maps that required evacuation. As for Forest Management, bullsh!t! The Forest service has made most of the fire areas inaccessible due to the removal of the roads that allow access to the back country.

    Right now we are in a severe drought. Most fires in Idaho will burn until the heavy fall rains or until the snow comes. They don’t put that fact on MSM. But no worries, the Hollywood & Politico Crowd’s homes will be saved.

    FYI: http://www.inciweb.org/state/13/

  3. I care not about the entertainers or politicos homes as they have other
    homes of their own to go. It’s the average Joe and the wildlife and environment which concerns me.

    1. The Elk Complex Fire moved so fast initially that 10,000 cattle on the run didn’t make it. Untold numbers of deer & antelope lost too. Water runoff from burned areas will cause fish kills in streams & plug municipal water intake filters. Any chemicals in the soil will leech out into streams. The above picture of the helicopter drop, the red color of the fire retardant indicates a Borate solution that is toxic to fish & wildlife. Borate retardant use was discontinued several years ago due to this toxicity. I guess when Arnold’s, Tom’s & Bruce’s houses are at stake, it’s WGAF. The locals are considered “little people”.

      1. I was suspicious of that red fire retardant and had asked what was in it;
        answer: duh. The American people have totally lost control of their
        country by a pile of power crazy parasites. We don’t have a leader
        but have hope one will step up to the plate and screw the elections.

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