I’m interrupting my planned post (DIY laminate counters, coming soon!) to share something that has been consuming all my thoughts and attention over the past week: the Beaver Creek wildfire.
Last weekend Mike and I went to the Challis for the Braun Brothers Reunion music festival and came home to news that there was a wildfire, sparked by lightning, on the other side of the Smoky Mountains. By Monday morning the fire was visible, but not especially concerning.
Then it started to grow, and grow, with thick clouds of smoke settling all through the valley. The settled smoke, called inversion, is so dense in the mornings that I can only see a few houses down on my street before the structures are lost to the haze. The county is strongly encouraging everyone to stay inside, to not even take the dogs out for a walk.
In the afternoon, the winds pick up and the inversion lifts. This is good for my lungs, but horrible for the fire. The past few afternoons have been times of powerful fire activity, with the fire hopping from treetop to treetop. A swath of residences between the towns of Hailey and Ketchum have been evacuated, with more evacuations planned.
The fire, as of this morning, has grown to over 64,000 acres. It’s only 9% contained, though there are 600 firefighters working in the area and we were upgraded to the number one fire priority in the country. As the fire moves toward the one road connecting the three towns that make up Sun Valley, there is concern that the road may need to be closed.
Now the good news: House Bella isn’t, at this time, in any danger. We are not currently in the path of the wildfire. It’s a comfort, though a relatively small one. We have many friends who have either already been evacuated, or are in danger of being.
The bad news is that this fire is unpredictable, moving fast, and there is no end in sight. The news and government agencies in the valley have been amazing at posting and sharing information as it comes in. All the talk – at the coffee shop, at the bar, on the streets, in the grocery store – is fire. Residents not evacuating are jumping in to offer up bedrooms, driveways, yards, and to take in animals. This is such a great community.
There are many things I worry about with this fire. The potential for it to burn over the ski mountain and into the town of Ketchum exists, though the firefighters are doing everything possible to make sure that doesn’t happen. Burning over a ski mountain seems like such a silly thing to worry about, but this is a resort town. The lifeblood of our valley is that ski mountain, and any damage to it would have wide ranging impacts. I try not to think about it. But I’m anxious, and worried, and so thankful for the firefighters in the air and on the ground helping to protect our little town.
Local photographer Matt Leidecker took some incredible pictures of the fire burning through Greenhorn Gulch late yesterday afternoon. Check out his Beaver Creek Fire gallery (pages 5 and 6 are especially stunning).