More than 1,000 still evacuated due to Central Idaho wildfire

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by KTVB.COM

KREM.com

Posted on August 21, 2013 at 6:03 AM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 21 at 6:21 AM

HAILEY, Idaho -- More than 1,100 people are currently evacuated due to the Beaver Creek Fire, according to Blaine County officials. Many of them have been unable to go home for nearly five days.

County officials said all of the mandatory evacuation orders are still in place, except for residents of the following communities:

  • East Fork Canyon, including Triumph
  • West side of Highway 75 from McKercher Blvd.
  • Zinc Spur
  • Deer Creek

They were allowed to return to their homes Tuesday afternoon placed back under a pre-evacuation status.

The 106,323-acre fire is now 30 percent contained and continues to actively burn west Hailey and Ketchum. More than 1,800 firefighting personnel are trying to bring the flames under control.

Incident Commander Beth Lund says there is still a lot of work to do, but she's proud of what they've done thus far.

"We are going to be reporting 30 percent containment on this fire, and we feel really good about that. We're making some good progress," said Lund.

And with thousands of structures threatened, they only lost eight and only one was a primary residence.

"When people see what that canyon looks like, they'll be amazed that more weren't lost. It was very hot and very fast in there, and some really good firefighting was done in there. So we're feeling good about that and we think we're not in danger of losing any more at this point," said Lund.

Bronwyn Nickel is the public information officer for Blaine County. She says there's no word when the evacuation other orders will cease.

"We still have about 1,850 homes that continue to be under mandatory evacuation, and 8,150 on pre-evacuation notice," Nickel said.

Nickel says the evacuation numbers are based on an estimate of 2.5 residents per home, but also reflect the number of vacation properties in the area.

She says many of the evacuees are staying with friends and family in the area, while others have resorted to camping in the nearby towns of Stanley and Mackay.

Another group remains at a Red Cross Shelter at the Community Campus in Hailey.

Shelter director Johnnie Sue Elliot said they have 12 volunteers helping out the 45 people staying there, since being evacuated from their homes. Even though evacuees outnumber the volunteers serving, Elliot said they're all upbeat and ready to serve.

"We have several families with small children that can't be outside for hours in all this smoke," said Elliot.

The shelter is still offering cots, blankets, hygiene kits, showers, three meals per day, snacks, and water to people displaced by the fires.

Lincoln County has also opened up their fairgrounds for camping, as well as Stanley's city park and community center.

Folks at Tuesday night's community meeting in Sun Valley were also relieved.

"I think it's gone extraordinarily well considering it could have gone a whole lot worse," said Sun Valley resident Bobbi Bellows.

 Especially with the news that the annual Wagon Days celebration is still happening.

"It's great for the merchants and great for the community," said Sun Valley resident Jim Bronson.

This was a much-needed sigh of relief for the Wood River Valley residents.

FIRE PRIORITIES

Fire managers said they're focusing on the eastern edge of the fire on Tuesday, and that means heavy air attack near Deer Creek, Croy Creek, and Bullion Gulch.

Another area of concern is the Timber Gulch and Greenhorn Gulch areas, along with much of the Highway 75 corridor. Managers said those areas are likely to see more firefighters focused on structure protection.

Fire information officer Shawna Hartman told KTVB that they're expecting gusty winds up to 30 miles-per-hour to fuel the fire. "It can definitely affect the fire behavior," said Hartman. "It can also bring more lightning to the area."

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