Friday, July 18, 2008

Firefighters snuff Ketchum-area blaze

Flames threaten riverside residences


By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer

Firefighters from three agencies contained a potentially dangerous brush fire south of Ketchum Wednesday, after flames spread through a residential area thick with dry cottonwood trees.

One house was directly threatened by encroaching flames but was successfully protected. No property damage or injuries were reported.

Ketchum Fire Chief Mike Elle said crews from the Ketchum, Sun Valley and Blaine County fire departments responded shortly after 1 p.m. to a call of a brush fire in a stand of cottonwood trees off River Rock Lane, in the Broadway Run area east of The Meadows mobile home park, adjacent to the Big Wood River.

Elle said he believes the fire was likely ignited in a pile of fluffy cottonwood seedlings. The fire burned an area approximately one acre in size, Elle said, near houses along the river. Some cottonwood trees caught fire and created smaller "spot fires" in the area, he said.

"They're always ugly when they get in that stuff (cottonwoods and cottonwood debris)," he said.

The fire was contained at approximately 1:45 p.m. and the scene was cleared approximately three hours later, Elle said.

Elle said he believes the fire was started accidentally. Nonetheless, an investigation into the cause of the blaze is being conducted, he said.

Elle warned that people must be especially diligent to prevent wildfires as the summer progresses. Vegetation throughout the region is drying out and the danger of fires is gradually increasing.

"You've got to be careful this time of year, especially when the cottonwood duff is out there."




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