Hundreds flee as wildfire menaces Idaho ski resort towns

Fire engines extinguish the perimeter of the fire line as the Elk Complex fire burns near the town of Pine, Idaho, in this U.S. Forest Service. (Credit: Reuters)
Fire engines extinguish the perimeter of the fire line as the Elk Complex fire burns near the town of Pine, Idaho, in this U.S. Forest Service. (Credit: Reuters)

Firefighters battled on Friday to check a fast-moving wildfire raging near the Sun Valley ski resort in Idaho, where more than 1,000 people were evacuated as flames menaced multimillion-dollar homes in the area, authorities said.

The so-called Beaver Creek Fire, the nation’s top firefighting priority, has raced across 64,000 acres of mountains and canyons intersected by luxury housing developments since it was sparked by lightning in the Sawtooth National Forest on August 7.

Occupants of more than 1,300 dwellings have been ordered to evacuate and the tourist towns of Ketchum and Sun Valley have been told to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice, said Blaine County spokeswoman Bronwyn Nickel.

It was unclear how many people were affected by the mandatory evacuations, which were tied to outlying residential developments mostly south of Ketchum and Sun Valley and not in city limits.

“Conditions are changing rapidly, the fire is fast and furious,” Nickel said on Friday night.

The fire is one of dozens of destructive blazes in Western states, many of them fed by drought conditions, unusually high temperatures and fierce winds.

On Friday near the Idaho ski resort, in the state’s Wood River Valley, plumes of smoke towered over the area, at the height of a summer recreation season that drives the local economy.

U.S. Forest Service and other fire crews had lost ground against the blaze by Friday morning, with a containment estimate of 11 percent on Wednesday dropping to 9 percent.

One flank of a blaze edged closer on Friday to Ketchum, just minutes from the community of Sun Valley and its namesake ski resort, which fire officials said faced no immediate threat.

In the towns of Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley, foot traffic was light as thick smoke reduced visibility and hampered driving on the only highway that connects the three communities.

ROADWAY UNDER THREAT

Cars and trucks streamed down the roadway, which the local sheriff warned may close with the fire’s approach, as residents of Ketchum and Sun Valley sought refuge elsewhere.

Dale Byington, general manager of the Sawtooth Club, an award-winning restaurant in Ketchum, estimated that 70 percent of the city’s roughly 2,700 residents have fled. He described the largely deserted downtown as “surreal.”

Byington said he had packed belongings into his vehicle and was ready to leave if flames continue to advance.

“It’s not good,” he said.

Air tankers were assigned to drop fire retardant near clusters of upscale homes nestled in subdivisions between Hailey and Ketchum, and fire engines were deployed to guard luxury residential developments where homes can be worth tens of millions of dollars.

The fire on Thursday night destroyed one house in an outlying neighborhood, Nickel said. She added that insurance companies have dispatched teams of contractors to protect high-end homes.

Elsewhere in Idaho, fire crews were gaining ground on a blaze menacing two mountain resort towns in the Boise National Forest about 70 miles east of the state capital. The so-called Elk Complex fire near Pine and Featherville has consumed 38 houses and 43 other buildings outside city limits.

The 117,000-acre (47,350-ha) blaze has killed dozens of animals – including elk, deer and a black bear – since it was ignited by lightning on August 8. Featherville and Pine, where Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter has a getaway cabin, have been mostly emptied of hundreds of summertime residents.

Otter and U.S. Forest Service chief Tom Tidwell toured the two wildfires by air on Friday.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.