BOISE — Sheriff’s deputies ordered the evacuation of 1,600 homes near the Idaho mountain resort community of Sun Valley on Friday as a wind-driven wildfire torched its way through sage and pine trees.
The 85-square-mile Beaver Creek Fire was moving toward the Sun Valley Ski Resort, which turned on water cannons ordinarily reserved for wintertime snowmaking. One home in an outlying valley was destroyed Thursday night, said Bronwyn Nickel, a spokeswoman for Blaine County, where the fire is burning.
More than 600 state and federal firefighters were dispatched to the blaze in the affluent resort region that’s a second home to celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Hanks, and Bruce Willis. In addition, some insurers have sent in their own crews to provide structural protection for homes with values that can stretch into the millions of dollars, Nickel said.
Fire officials said strong, gusty winds, low humidity, and tinder-dry vegetation created unstable conditions surrounding the Beaver Creek Fire, where a huge DC-10 tanker, capable of carrying 12,000 gallons of retardant, was among aircraft making drops on the blaze.
Jack Sibbach, a Sun Valley Resort spokesman, had to leave his home south of Ketchum on Friday. He said he watched as planes and helicopters made runs in roughly three-minute intervals, dropping water and retardant to create a barrier against flames.