Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Beaver Creek Wildfire Tops 105,000 Acres, 1,150 Firefighters on the Scene

Posted By on Tue, Aug 20, 2013 at 9:38 AM

While a select few evacuees were allowed to return to a few neighborhoods in and around Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley, even more Idahoans were packing their homes while flames threatened the town of Atlanta in Elmore County.

The Little Queens Fire, believed to be human-caused, has quickly scorched 2,000 acres just northwest of Atlanta, closing part of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. The fire is burning close to the Boise National Forest boundary and Boise Forest officials may soon take over fire management.

Meanwhile, fire managers have set up an additional satellite camp to accommodate more firefighting crews that continue to rotate in and out of the Beaver Creek Fire, which remains the nation's highest wildfire priority. More than 1,150 firefighters are already on the scene.

The Beaver Creek wildfire slowed its destruction in the last 24 hours after burning more than 105,000 acres and forced the evacuation of 2,250 homes. The blaze is now 9 percent contained.

Hotshot crews have been directly attacking the Beaver Creek Fire in Timber Gulch between Ketchum and Hailey. At the same time, other crews have been strengthening a bulldozer line, running from Highway 75 to the top of the Bald Mountain. Meanwhile, helicopters continue to douse fire retardant along the bulldozer line.

The National Weather Service says that lower temperatures and higher humidity could sweep into the region today, which could moderate the fire's behavior. But at the same time, there is an increasing possibility of thunderstorms late today and into Wednesday, which could produce erratic and gusty winds.

Officials are expressing major concern that a number of large, illegal campfires have continued to be discovered in the northern Boise National Forest area. Stage 1 fire restrictions have been effect since Aug. 1, outlawing the campfires.

Meanwhile, Payette National Forest fire crews reported a new wildfire Aug. 19 near Coin Mountain in the Frank Church River of Nor Return Wilderness. Officials said the fire will be challenging because of dry fuels down into Big Creek.

The Elk Complex Fire is now 65 percent contained after burning more than 131,000 acres, and the Pony Complex Fire is fully contained after burning nearly 150,000 acres.

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