Sun Valley Threatened By Wildfire

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SAM Magazine-Sun Valley, Ida., Aug. 31, 2007-The western side of Sun Valley Ski Resort is under extreme pressure from the Castle Rock Fire, with crews struggling to prevent the unpredictable blaze from torching the ski area itself. The fire, which has kicked up several spot blazes on the resort itself, has also forced the evacuation of several Ketchum neighborhoods. Currently the Castle Rock fire has burned 44,111 acres; more than 1,500 firefighters are battling the blaze.

While only spot fires sparked by embers from the blaze have blemished the ski area (and those fires were quickly suppressed by firefighting efforts) the situation remains grave for the venerable Idaho resort, with the backside of Bald Mountain already blackened.

"We've lost a lot," says Gabe Glosband, a resident of Ketchum and the wintersports marketing director at Scott USA, a manufacturer of ski poles and eyewear. "All of our mountain biking trails have been effected by the fire and I've watched spot fires burn dangerously close to the ski area. There's a lot of fire power out there fighting the fire, but ultimately it's Mother Nature's decision on what happens next."

According to Sun Valley's local newspaper, the Idaho Mountain Express, Sun Valley Resort's state-of-the-art snowmaking system was turned on in several areas to wet down the extremely dry slopes in an effort to help contain the blaze, while crews also created firebreaks in areas adjacent to the resort in an attempt to contain the fire.

Additional reports from the USFS' Inciweb site, which tracks and maps wildfires, states that as of 2 p.m. on Friday, the fire was 66 percent contained. According to Inciweb reports, "crews continue to patrol, mop-up and provide structure protection on all fronts of the fire perimeter."

"There were some residents that got teary-eyed when the flames came over the mountain," fire information officer Judith Downing told the Idaho Mountain Express.