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Idaho wildfire 9% contained

Beaver Creek fire grows to 158 square miles

August 18, 2013

"You never want to trust a fire, especially this one"

—Beth Lund

The Beaver Creek Fire in Idaho grew over 8,000 acres overnight to 100,916 acres, or roughly 158 square miles. To put that in perspective, that means the area of the fire is now larger than the city of Denver, Colorado.

Containment grew for the first time in several days Saturday, to 9 percent.

The fire, stoked by strong winds made a push to the north Saturday and forced more people from their homes outside the central Idaho ski town of Ketchum, bringing the number of residences evacuated because of the blaze to more than 2,300. The majority of the homes under orders to evacuate are in north Hailey.

“You never want to trust a fire, especially this one,” said Incident Cmdr. Beth Lund, said the Beaver Creek blaze was “just an aggressively active fire.”

Lund and her management team were in the process Sunday of combining the command of the Beaver Creek fire with than of the nearby McCan fire, which was declared fully contained at 23,389 acres.

The Blaine Country sheriff’s office says all mandatory evacuation orders and pre-evacuation notices remain in effect until further notice.

Forecasters have announced another red flag warning for the area. It will be in effect Sunday afternoon and evening.

More than 1,000 firefighters wrestled with the rugged and heavily wooden terrain. Twenty-four Idaho National Guard troops begin their work in the area Sunday. Their duties will include manning roadblocks and guarding evacuated neighborhoods. Managers are hoping they won’t need additional resources.

The National Interagency Fire Center said Idaho was the most-active front on a widespread war against wildfires throughout the West. Idaho has nine large fires totaling nearly 408,000 acres, and red flag warnings are in affect in the southern half of the state.

The Beaver Creek fire is the nation’s top-priority wildfire, in part because it’s burning so close to homes and subdivisions.

The fire’s proximity to homes has provoked a robust and coordinated response in a region familiar with big blazes. Private insurance companies have sent their own engine crews to bolster structural protection for homes that can cost millions of dollars, said Bronwyn Nickel, spokeswoman for Blain County.

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