Idaho wildfires: Beaver Creek fire gains ground, firefighters make progress on Elk, Pony complexes

Statesman staff and The Associated PressAugust 15, 2013 

A big wildfire burning west of resort communities of Ketchum and Hailey destroyed one structure and forced evacuation of six residences while growing significantly.

By Thursday evening, the Beaver Creek Fire had torched 68 square miles, or around 44,000 acres, and it was 9 percent contained. More than 600 firefighters, numerous air tankers and other resources were deployed in a bid to slow its advance. A night crew protected threatened homes overnight.

The southern portion of the fire was contained and relatively stable, fire managers said, and they pointed to the east and northwest parts of the fire as being the most active.

Intermountain Gas Company, in response to homes being threatened in the Greenhorn Gulch area northwest of Hailey, said it was shutting down service to up to 93 customers.

Mandatory evacuations were in place Thursday night for Timber Gulch south to and including Zinc Spur on the west side of Idaho 75. That area includes all of Golden Eagle, all of Greenhorn Gulch and Deer Creek from the Big Wood Bridge west. All of East Fork below Zinc Spur south to the north end of Treasure Lane on the west side of Idaho 75 was under a pre-evacuation notice.

A bunkhouse and three outbuildings had been destroyed, officials said.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell will tour the Beaver Creek and Elk Complex fires Friday and take media questions at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, according to Otter’s office.

ELK COMPLEX FIRE

Location:

10 miles southwest of Pine

Size:

About 116,000 acres, or around 180 square miles

Containment:

40 percent

Estimated containment date:

Oct. 1

Thursday update:

Ignition operations were successfully completed along the south fork of the Boise River to the 2012 Trinity Ridge fire, helping to secure the communities of Pine and Featherville. Tidwell and Intermountain Regional Forester Nora Rasure toured the area. A community meeting was held at the Elks Lodge in Mountain Home. Access was cleared up for fire personnel to enter the Lester Creek and Fall Creek areas for further assessments.

Property losses:

38 homes and 43 outbuildings, according to fire managers. All 38 homes burned were located in the Fall Creek area, along the western shore of Anderson Ranch Reservoir. The Elmore County Sheriff’s Office set up a phone number for property owners to call. The number - (208) 653-2505 - will be staffed daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; property owners can also email pineincidentcommand@gmail.com.

PONY COMPLEX FIRE

Location:

12 miles northeast of Mountain Home

Size:

About 148,000 acres, or around 230 square miles

Containment:

80 percent

Estimated containment date:

Unknown

Thursday update:

Crews made good progress, fire managers reported, edging closer to containment. Anderson Ranch and the Danskin lookout had been areas of major focus, and they were secured and mopped up. Crews will continue to hold and improve the line on the northwest flank from Blacks Creek north toward the South Fork of the Boise River. Resources will begin demobilizing in the next few days, officials said.

FIREFIGHTERS GET REPRIEVE FROM BOISE STATE

Boise State University announced Thursday that it was extending the deadlines for firefighters for admissions, registration, fee payment, housing check-in and dropping or adding a class. They now have through Monday, Sept. 9, as long as they can show proof of their status as a firefighter this summer.

Firefighting students will be able to withdraw from a class without a penalty if it's determined that it's not reasonable to make up missed assignments.

Students or relatives can call (208) 426-2384 for help.

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