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Thousands Flee as Wildfire Threatens Idaho Ski Resort Towns

Posted by feww on August 17, 2013

Extreme fire behavior leads to evacuations, explosive growth on Beaver Creek Fire: Report

The 64,000-acre Beaver Creek Fire Wildfire in Sawtooth National Forest, NW of Hailey Idaho, has lead to explosive growth, prompting additional evacuations and pre-evacuation warnings.

The Beaver Creek Fire was ignited by lightning August 7 and has since forced complete evacuation of multiple subdivision on both sides of Highway 75 between Hailey and Ketchum, according to the authorities.

Fire Head Near Imperial Gulch
Extreme fire behavior has been predicted again for the remainder of the day. Here, the fire burns near the head of Imperial Gulch, south of Greenhorn. Credit: Sawtooth National Forest/ U.S. Forest Service

Pre-evacuation notice has been implemented for the highway 75 corridor from Beaver ICP to Oregon Gulch including the towns of Sun Valley and Ketchum. Active structure protection on east of fire, burn out of contingency line on SE to protect town of Croy. Forest Service area closure has been increased to the north including the Baker Creek and Easley Hot Springs area.

Early Damage Assessment

Exact count of structures destroyed or damaged 8/15 unknown, at least one primary residence destroyed with damage to several others; the bridge on FS road 227 connecting Ketchum and Fairfield destroyed; loss of multiple outbuildings certain, 1 RAWS destroyed. Block 22: Injury likely ACL tear, one dehydration, firefighters demobed for treatment at home.

Visit from Governor Otter and USFS Chief on 8/16. Unified Command established with Ketchum and Wood River Fire and Rescue departments. Additional structure protection assets coordinated with IDL on order including overhead from out of state. Daily public meetings with local citizens with significant media interest. Resources contributed from other incidents much appreciated. Insurance company engine representative coordinating with Team. [Inciweb]

Beaver Creek Fire is one of 10 large (greater than 100 acres), uncontained wildfires in the area.

Some 2 dozen large Idaho wildfires have been burning about 500,000 acres across the state since last month.

Hundreds of large wildfires have been scorching millions of acres across 13 states–Idaho, Utah, Oregon, Wyoming, California, Arizona, Montana, Nevada, Washington, New Mexico, Colorado, Wisconsin and Alaska–since May 2013.

Beaver Creek Fire, Twin Falls, ID

Fire Stats

Cause:  Lightning
Date of Origin: Wednesday August 07th, 2013 approx. 12:00 AM
Location: northwest of Hailey Idaho

  • Size: 64,236 acres
  • Percent Contained: 6%
  • Growth Potential: Extreme
  • Terrain Difficulty: Extreme
  • Total Personnel: 698

Fire Behavior: Extreme fire behavior with active surface runs and crown fire. All fuels receptive to spotting.

Current Weather

  • Wind Conditions: 7-15 g 30 mph SW
  • Temperature: 91 degrees
  • Humidity: 7%

Elk Complex Fire

The Elk Fire, which  resulted from several lightning-sparked fires burning together on the night of August 8 has now consumed more than 125, 000 acres, destroying at least 81 structures.

The evacuation of the Pine/ Featherville corridor, issued by the Elmore County Sheriff’s Office, remains in place.

Elmore County Sheriffs Office Completes Structure Assessment

At least 38 residences and 43 outbuildings have been destroyed totaling 81 structures.

Idaho Governor Butch Otter visited the Complex today and met with the military commanders who have been assigned to the fire area.

Elk Complex Fire - Boise Nat Forest
Elk Complex Fire.
Boise National Forest/ U.S. Forest Service

Elk Complex Fire, SW of Pine, ID

  • Cause: Lightning
  • Date of Origin: Thursday August 08th, 2013 approx. 09:00 PM
  • Location:  10 miles southwest of Pine
  • Size: 125,033 acres
  • Percent Contained 50%Total Personnel 834
  • Estimated Containment Date Tuesday October 01st, 2013 approx. 12:00 AM
  • Fuels Involved: timber, brush, grass
  • Fire Behavior:  Single and group tree torching and short crown runs. Spotting distances of one half mile are possible. Where fuels, topography and weather aligned, rates of spread of up to 80 chains per hour were likely to have occurred but were obscured by smoke.
  • Growth Potential: Extreme
  • Terrain Difficulty: Extreme

Current Weather

  • Wind Conditions 20 mph SW
  • Temperature: 90 degrees
  • Humidity: 8%

Related Links

One Response to “Thousands Flee as Wildfire Threatens Idaho Ski Resort Towns”

  1. steve b. said

    Wildfires have burned 1.25 million acres across Alaska this summer, according to the state’s fire-management center, the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center. Seventy fires were active on Friday, including a 57,870-acre (23,400-hectare) blaze near Delta Junction, about 95 miles southeast of Fairbanks.

    The fire season usually winds down in late June or early July, but not this year, said Jim Schwarber, a spokesman for the center.

    The fire near Delta Junction created such smoky conditions that residents were advised earlier this week to stay indoors. Air quality was classified by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation as “very unhealthy,” the second-worst category used by regulators.

    “The smoke situation in Delta was really grim for a while,” Schwarber said. Smoke from fires closer to Fairbanks forced the cancellation last weekend of a high-school football festival.

    This year’s fire season is part of long-term pattern of more frequent big burns, Rick Thoman, climate science manager for the National Weather Service in Alaska, said in a conference call on Thursday. Since 1988, there have been 11 summers with over 1 million acres burned in Alaska, nearly twice the rate of big-fire years recorded from 1940 to 1987, he said.

    Prolonged summer wildfires are “a direct result” of hot weather across Alaska, Thoman said. The average temperature in June in Barrow in the northern tip of the state was 39 Fahrenheit (4 Celsius), the highest on record, and that city had its warmest-ever combined June and July temperatures, according to the weather service.


    Anchorage, the state’s largest city, tied its record for the warmest-ever combined June and July temperatures, and had a record 15 days of consecutive 70F-plus (21C) days.

    Fairbanks’ 36 days of temperatures of 80F (27C) or above shattered a record of 30 days achieved most recently in 2004. The coastal cities of Valdez and Cordova had their first-ever 90F (32C) days in June, and the eastern Alaska town of Eagle hit 92F (33C) on Monday, a record for this late in the summer, the weather service said.

    Heat brings more problems than just wildfires, Thoman and other experts said. Hot and dry conditions are stunting spruce tree growth in interior Alaska, and adding to stress for nearly all species of trees in the northern forest, he said.

    Ocean fish have been found covered with algae, possibly a result of hotter sea-surface temperatures, Thoman said. Streams and rivers fed by glaciers and snowpack have been gorged by meltwater, causing sporadic flooding, while rain-fed waterways in parched areas have been running dry, he said.


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