Wednesday, August 28, 2013

In battle for the valley, firefighters prevail

Express photos document the bout against the Beaver Creek Fire

Express Staff Writer

On Monday, Aug. 12, the Beaver Creek Fire burns in timber on both sides of Warm Springs Road, west of Ketchum.
Express photo by Willy Cook

The Beaver Creek Fire started with a lightning strike in Camas County on Wednesday, Aug. 7. It gradually moved east toward Blaine County west of Hailey, and on Friday, Aug. 9, made an aggressive eight-mile run to the north, burning through stands of heavy timber. A huge plume of gray smoke was visible to the west of Bald Mountain and Ketchum.
    Fueled by high heat, low humidity and strong winds, the fire grew rapidly, and by Monday, Aug. 12, it had crossed to the north of Warm Springs Road, west of Ketchum, and was threatening the central Wood River Valley in the Deer Creek and Greenhorn Gulch drainages. It eventually tore through both drainages and burned a house in Greenhorn Gulch. The fire’s unpredictable and hostile behavior earned it the nickname “The Beast.” Evacuations were ordered up and down the valley. Early in the morning of Saturday, Aug. 17, it raced into Croy Canyon west of Hailey and burned Carbonate Mountain, immediately west of the city.
    The fire also burned in Timber Gulch, south of Bald Mountain, threatening homes there and prompting a hard stand by firefighters to protect the ski mountain and St. Luke’s hospital. It also ran to the north, into the Baker Creek drainage. Time and again, the fire team succeeded, to the point where the blaze is now nearly contained, after burning more than 111,000 acres of prized forest and recreation areas.
    These photos by Idaho Mountain Express photographers document the fight to save the Wood River Valley, a valiant battle that was for a time the No. 1 priority firefight in the nation.

For numerous days, smoke filled the Wood River Valley and surrounding forests.
Express photo by Roland Lane

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