Wildifires
7:54 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Beaver Creek Update: Fire Managers Believe The Blaze Is Now "Manageable"

Beaver Creek Fire, Wildfires
The Idaho Statesman captured this image of a firefighter walking through a burned field near homes west of Hailey, Idaho, Aug. 17, 2013.
Credit Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

Update, Aug. 19, 7:54 a.m.:  Officials in Blaine County say some homeowners evacuated because of the Beaver Creek Fire may be allowed to return home today.  But nothing has been announced this morning.  In the meantime, the sheriff is asking residents to be patient and not to try and return to their homes before evacuation ordered are lifted.

The Beaver Creek Fire is 8 percent contained - a slight decrease during the day Sunday.  It's burned 104,457 acres.  More than 1,100 people are in the Wood River Valley fighting the fire. 

Update, Aug. 18, 5:55 p.m.: The Blaine County Sheriff is urging residents wanting to return to their homes to be patient.  Through its website this afternoon, the Sheriff’s Office says the Beaver Creek Fire still poses a “serious threat”.  That’s despite a more optimistic tone early Sunday from fire managers about their progress.  Here’s the full text of today’s announcement:

August 18, 2013 2:30 p.m.

Please be advised that the Beaver Creek Fire still poses a serious threat to the residents of Blaine County.

INDIAN CREEK AND THE VALLEY CLUB STILL REMAIN UNDER MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDERS AT THIS TIME.

Residents will be NOTIFIED IF AND WHEN IT IS SAFE for Indian Creek and the Valley Club to be returned to Pre-Evacuation Notice.

Returning pre-maturely endangers the fire suppression effort, your personal safety and the safety of fire crews and law enforcement.

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO RETURN UNTIL POSTED.

We will continue to analyze fire activity daily to determine when it is safe to allow residents to return to their homes. Return Notification Updates will be sent out to areas as soon possible.

-Blaine County Sheriff's Office website

Update, Aug. 18, 10:45 a.m.: The Beaver Creek Fire grew just over 8,000 acres overnight to 100,916 or roughly 158 square miles. That means the area of the fire is now larger than the city of Denver, Colorado.

The Blaine County sheriff's office says all mandatory evacuation orders and pre-evacuation notices remain in effect until further notice. The sheriff's website reminds residents in the area not to attempt to return home until the all-clear is given.

Update, Aug. 18, 7:39 a.m.: Beaver Creek Fire managers say there was little new growth on the fire overnight, thanks to lower temperatures and higher humidity. The fire is 9 percent contained, up from 6 percent on Saturday. A spokesperson for fire managers says they think the blaze is now more “manageable”. 

Beaver Creek Fire spokesperson Shawna Hartman says this morning the firefighting team has a sense of optimism they hadn’t experienced before on this fire.

Beaver Creek Fire, Wildfires
Here's a look at the most recent perimeter of the Beaver Creek Fire burning in Idaho's Wood River Valley. Aug. 18, 2013.
Credit Inciweb.org

“You know, we still respect the power of this fire, and there’s still that concern that it can be extreme fire danger as it was before,” Hartman says. “But right now we’re going to take advantage of the break that nature has given us. And we’ve also gotten more resources in and that’s given us a boost as far as what we can accomplish on this fire.”

The number of personnel working the fire is 1,066.  Managers are hoping they won’t need additional resources. 

The Blaine County sheriff’s office says nearly 10,000 homes remain under mandatory evacuation orders or pre-evacuation notices.  The majority of the 2,300 homes under orders to evacuate are in north Hailey.

Twenty-four Idaho National Guard troops begin their work in the area Sunday. Their duties will include manning roadblocks and guarding evacuated neighborhoods.

Update, 6:38 a.m. Sunday:  We're waiting on the latest numbers from fire managers on acreage burned and containment percentage.  As of their last update, the fire had burned 92,754 acres.  Containment grew for the first time in several days Saturday, to 9 percent.

The Blaine County Sheriff's Office did not announce any new evacuations or issue any new pre-evacuation notices overnight.

Forecasters have announced another red flag warning for the area.  It will be in effect this afternoon and evening.

We're on the air with newscast updates this morning on KBSX 91.5 FM in the Boise area and KBSS 91.1 in the Wood River Valley. 

Update, 6:05 p.m. Saturday.: The Blaine County sheriff's office has issued mandatory evacuations for at least 2,250 homes and an additional 7,500 homes are preparing to evacuate if it becomes necessary as the Beaver Creek Fire continues to grow.

Public information officer Jonetta Trued says firefighters are doing everything they can to be proactive in protecting homes in the Sun Valley, Ketchum and Hailey areas.

“We’re installing sprinkler systems, we’re depriving the fire of fuel, we’re wetting down everything we can, and then we’re staying by those structures as much as possible,” Trued says.

She says the Beaver Creek Fire continues to be very active, fueled by high winds and low humidity.  

To date, eight structures have been destroyed in the fire, that includes one home.

Update, 2:35 p.m. Saturday: The Blaine County sheriff's office has ordered a mandatory evacuation for areas north of Ketchum. The Beaver Creek Fire is now estimated at 92,754 acres which is about 144 square miles.

Here's a complete list of all mandatory evacuations currently in effect:

  • Residents of Glassford Heights north to SNRA on both sides of Highway 75 including Fox Creek, Eagle Creek, Chocolate Gulch, and North Fork Trailer Park
  • Residents of Hailey west of River Street including Queen of the Hills Drive, Sherwood Forest and Della View Subdivision(Does not include Albertson's)
  • Greenhorn Gulch, Golden Eagle, and Timber Gulch south down to Treasure Lane west of Hwy 75
  • All East Fork north to Hospital bridge on both east and west sides of Highway including Broadway Run
  • All Indian Creek, Ohio Gulch, and Heatherlands (includes Valley Club)
  • Deer Creek from the Big Wood Bridge west
  • Treasure Lane south McKercher Blvd. including Aspen Lakes west of Hwy 75 (does not include Northridge)
  • Croy Creek Canyon from Big Wood Bridge west
  • Baker Creek on West side of Hwy 75 south to North Fork (SNRA Headquarters) including Easley. (Does not include Galena Lodge)

The cities of Ketchum and Sun Valley are still under pre-evacuation notice, which means residents should be prepared to leave if conditions worsen.

Firefighters did airdrops on the Beaver Creek fire until sundown on Friday Aug. 16.
Firefighters did airdrops on the Beaver Creek fire until sundown on Friday Aug. 16.
Credit Ashley Smith / Times-News

Update 12:30 p.m. Saturday: Some Hailey residents who were evacuated in the early morning hours have been allowed to return home. The people affected live west of River Street including Queen of the Hills Drive, Sherwood Forest and Della View Subdivision.

The area is now on pre-evacuation status. The same thing happened in Hailey late Friday afternoon when a mandatory order was lifted and some residents were allowed back. No mandatory evacuations in and around Sun Valley or Ketchum have been reversed.

Update, 9:00 a.m. Saturday: The latest update on acreage burned shows the Beaver Creek Fire grew by more than 25,000 acres overnight. A public information officer working with fire managers says the total acreage burned is now more than 92,700, or 144 square miles. Friday evening that figure was 64,236.

Fire information officer Rudy Evenson says the Beaver Creek Fire is being monitored 24-hours a day.

"We had winds gusting up to 30 mph, very dry air and the direction of the wind was blowing southwest to the northeast and a lot of the shape of the land in this area where fire is burning, a lot of valleys and ridges from the southwest to the northeast so they are lined up with the wind direction," says spokesman Rudy Evenson. 

Evenson says fire activity has slowed this morning but firefighters expect it to be very active again this afternoon. 

"If you imagine a barbecue with the lid on, it's kind of smoking in there and the coals are glowing but nothing is flaming up," he says. "What will happen later today as the sun heats up the Earth, the air rises and the winds start blowing, that's like taking the lid off the barbeque."

The Blaine County Sheriff hasn't issued any new evacuation orders or pre-evacuation notices since 3:30 this morning. Those are detailed below.

The sheriff's office is continuing to ask those evacuating to drive south out of the area on Highway 75. The Twin Falls Times-News reports the Red Cross has a shelter set up at the Community Campus in Hailey.

The Beaver Creek fire crew by 25,000 acres from Friday to Saturday morning.
The Beaver Creek fire crew by 25,000 acres from Friday to Saturday morning.
Credit InciWeb

St. Luke’s Hospital in Ketchum remains open. Emergency room and inpatient services are running, and ambulances are available. But for non-emergency medical care, people are asked to go to St. Luke’s Clinic in Hailey.

Medical helicopters are being used on a case-by-case basis. A hospital spokesperson says the hospital plans to remain open under the pre-evacuation notice. Friday night, four patients were transferred but the ER remained open.

The Idaho National Guard is activating 24 soldiers to assist with fire-related operations in the Wood River Valley. Starting Sunday afternoon, the soldiers will staff checkpoints, patrol for looters and assist with evacuations. 

Credit Ashley Smith / Twin Falls Times-News

Community meetings are scheduled for 3:00 p.m. at the Community Campus and 7:00 p.m. at the Bigwood Presbyterian Church.  

Update, 5:38 a.m. Saturday: Boise State Public Radio is  covering the Beaver Creek Fire on-air this morning in addition to our coverage online. Host Samantha Wright will be live on KBSX 91.5 (KBSS 91.1 in the Wood River Valley) with updates throughout the morning, starting at 6:00. 

We plan to talk with a reporter covering the Beaver Creek Fire, as well as fire managers, and offer the latest on evacuations from the Blaine County Sheriff's Department. Here's where you can find us on-air. You can stream our programming by clicking on the 'KBSX News' button in the upper left corner of this page.

Update 5:14 a.m. Saturday:  The Blaine County Sheriff's Office issued new mandatory evacuation orders overnight.  The order was issued around 3:30 a.m. for those in Hailey who live west of River Street.  This includes Queen of the Hills Dr., Sherwood Forest and Della View subdivision. There are around 1,500 homes under mandatory evacuation orders.  The cities of Ketchum and Sun Valley remain under pre-evacuation notices issued Friday.

Here's a complete list of areas where police have told residents to leave:

*Residents of Hailey west of River Street including Queen of the Hills Drive, Sherwood Forest and Della View Subdivision(Does not include Albertson's)

*Greenhorn Gulch, Golden Eagle, and Timber Gulch south down to Treasure Lane west of Hwy 75

*All East Fork north to Hospital bridge on both east and west sides of Highway including Broadway Run

*All Indian Creek, Ohio Gulch, and Heatherlands (includes Valley Club)

*Deer Creek from the Big Wood Bridge west

* Treasure Lane south McKercher Blvd. including Aspen Lakes west of Hwy 75 (does not include Northridge)

* Croy Creek Canyon from Big Wood Bridge west

*Baker Creek on West side of Hwy 75 south to North Fork (SNRA Headquarters) including Easley. (Does not include Galena Lodge)

- Blaine County Sheriff's Website

Highway 75 reopened Friday night after being closed for more than an hour. It remains open this morning.  Wildland firefighters from other Western states continue to arrive in the Wood River Valley to help fight the Beaver Creek Fire.  Firefighters from numerous Idaho municipalities are assisting with structure protection.

The latest update from fire managers shows another decrease in containment.  As of Friday evening, containment had fallen to just 6 percent.  The fire had burned 64,236 acres.

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