Monday, August 19, 2013

Idaho wildfire rages into 12th day near Sun Valley ski resort

Laura Zuckerman in Reuters: A wildfire that has forced the evacuation of more than 2,000 homes in central Idaho roared largely unchecked into a 12th day on Monday near the ski resort of Sun Valley, even though fire crews launched a big offensive against the blaze at the weekend.

Firefighters took advantage of calmer winds and higher humidity levels on Sunday to attack the flames aggressively, but still ended the day with containment lines carved around less than 10 percent of the blaze's perimeter, fire officials said.

The lightning-sparked fire has been raging since August 7 near Sun Valley and the adjacent tourist towns of Ketchum and Hailey. It has charred some 101,000 acres of parched sagebrush, grasslands and pine forests in the Sawtooth National Forest.

On Sunday afternoon, local authorities had expected to lift a mandatory evacuation for 200 homes in two neighborhoods north of Hailey. They said those plans were on hold Sunday night as gusty winds threatened to breathe new life into the blaze.

The ever-shifting nature of the so-called Beaver Creek fire, has frustrated fire managers. The blaze has exhibited erratic, even extreme behavior, engulfing whole trees and making unpredictable runs down mountainsides.

...More than 1,100 firefighters have been assigned to the blaze, backed up by bulldozers, water-dropping helicopters and airplane tankers carrying fire-retardant chemicals...

The aftermath of the 1910 St. Joe fire in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, from the Library of Congress

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