Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Busy weekend for firefighters

Two Sun Valley blazes demand large responses


By EXPRESS STAFF

Members of the Sun Valley Fire Department battle a blaze near the new White Clouds Golf Course in Sun Valley on Friday. The firefighters were in action again on Sunday when a garage in Elkhorn was engulfed in flames, causing about $300,000 in damage. Photo by Willy Cook

Firefighters had a busy weekend in Sun Valley, facing two significant blazes.

On Friday afternoon, firefighters snuffed a five-acre brush fire, containing the blaze before it damaged the new White Clouds golf course at Sun Valley Resort.

The Sun Valley Fire Department was dispatched to the former site of the Sun Valley Gun Club at 3:21 p.m. after a report that flames and smoke were visible from the golf course. The golf course, which opened in August, is located on the north side of Trail Creek Road, northeast of Sun Valley Village.

"When Sun Valley Assistant Fire Chief Ray Franco arrived on scene at 3:28 p.m., two Sun Valley police officers were hard at work trying to extinguish the flames," a news release from the city of Ketchum states.

Ten engines, one tactical support unit, three "chiefs units," one ambulance and 27 firefighters from Sun Valley, Ketchum, Wood River Fire and Rescue and the U.S. Forest Service responded to the call.

After scorching approximately five acres of land dominated by sagebrush, the fire was declared out at 5:33 p.m. The new golf course sustained no damage, and there were no injuries reported by firefighters.

"Due to the warm and dry conditions that continue through this month, open burning is not permitted in the Ketchum Rural Fire District at this time," the city of Ketchum news release states.

The second fire took place at 217 Bluebell Rd. in Elkhorn, the home of Julianne and Michael Roos, who smelled smoke and called the Sun Valley Fire Department at 9:20 p.m.

The couple were able to pull their cars out of the garage, where the fire started, but the flames then escaped up the side of the house and into the roof.

Assistant Chief Franco said that a total of seven engines were on the scene, with around 40 firefighters from Sun Valley, Ketchum, Hailey and Wood River Fire & Rescue.

The fire was knocked down approximately half an hour after firefighters arrived and was declared out around 11:30 p.m.

In addition to the garage and roof, Franco said the firefighters had to tear away part of the ceiling above the master bedroom, and that there was serious smoke and water damage. He estimated the cost of the damage to be between $250,000 and $350,000.

While it was originally thought that the fire was caused by an electrical problem, Franco said that the cause was still under investigation as of Tuesday, though it's not considered suspicious.




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