Friday, August 24, 2012

They saved the summer

    Five years after the Castle Rock Fire, communities in the Sun Valley area again owe a big thank you to firefighters who put out what could have become a big fire on Enclosure Creek at the head of the North Fork of Deer Creek west of state Highway 75.
    Word of the fire spread through the valley last Thursday afternoon like flames through dry grass. It alarmed people who had lived through the Castle Rock Fire and reignited bad memories of that late summer in 2007 when the “big one” slammed the brakes on the summer’s last hurrah.
    This time was different.
    With the one that got away still etched in their minds, officials with the U.S. Forest Service and BLM made sure that firefighters jumped on the blaze a short time after it was reported. They wasted no time in rolling out helitack and ground crews. Firefighters from local departments who are experts on structure fires also were posted to protect homes that may have been threatened if winds had not cooperated.
    Their quick action protected everyone in the Wood River Valley from an unwelcome rerun of Castle Rock, which cost $15 million to suppress. It also preserved money and manpower for use on bigger fires in Idaho and elsewhere in the West.
    Today, the Sun Valley area is still enjoying its full slate of late-summer activities courtesy of the firefighters who ran toward the danger, not away. There’s not enough money in the world to inspire firefighters to do their hot, sweaty and highly dangerous job, or ways to thank them properly.
    Inadequate as it is, the heartfelt thanks of everyone in Sun Valley, Ketchum, Hailey and Bellevue go out to those who saved the summer—and a whole lot more.

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