Officials undertake massive effort to protect homes and lives

Officials undertake massive effort to protect homes and lives

Print
Email
|

by Jamie Grey & Stephanie Zepelin

Bio | Email | Follow: @ktvbstephanie

KTVB.COM

Posted on August 16, 2013 at 11:17 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 16 at 11:38 PM

SUN VALLEY -- Throughout Friday, more and more evacuation areas forced people from their homes and turned neighborhoods into ghost towns.

Blaine County Sheriff Gene Ramsey says a majority of people have been following the evacuations orders even though a few are not.

"We're overwhelmed really with doing evacuations, so we're basically doing it by phone, and then we're following up going door to door. People have been very receptive and a majority of people are leaving, of course there's always a few who want to stay, and I hope they don't endanger anybody by staying," said Ramsey.

On Thursday, KTVB was in the Greenhorn Gulch area talking with neighbors, but on Friday they have cleared out and fire trucks dominate the streets, and the sky was filled with helicopters.

The Golden Eagle subdivision is full of empty homes, as the firefight took to the ridge right behind houses.

Air cranes dipped out of the ponds trying to keep the flames at bay, but flying today wasn't easy.

"Today has been a little bit frustrating for our air ops," said Traci Weaver with the Incident Management Team.

High winds and inversion grounded the air attack until later in the day, and on the ground local fire departments from across the state rolled in.

"We're going to have 10 of them out, 10 new ones out tonight. We're going to have them in multiple areas patrolling making sure there's no embers that landed on a roof or in a yard or somewhere where they would start a fire," said Weaver.

Evacuees sped south down on Highway 75, where multiple roadblocks were put in place Friday night.

As some left the Wood River Valley, others watched the fire burn down the hillside.

"I've seen a lot of disasters in my lifetime like tornadoes down in Oklahoma where I come from, but never any fires that threatened my home like this," said Hailey resident Robert Cole.

Cole has lived in Hailey for the last 15 years, and has friends all over the Wood River Valley, some of whom were evacuated.

"I  just hope like hell that they're safe, and I hope that it don't come down into Hailey when I heard about the evacuation earlier it kind of made me scared," said Cole. 

With more crews rolling in every day, Cole is putting his faith in the firefighters.

"Hopefully everything turns out alright. We got some good people on this, and hopefully they get it out before anything really traumatic happens," said Cole.

Crews said the fire just got too close to the Highway and with smoke over the roadway closing Highway 75 was a big step.

It just wasn't just the residents that were being evacuated, but also businesses in the area that had to quickly evacuate.

"It was kind of a surprise. It's happened all very quickly. We had a bunch of friends evacuated down south last night, and then definitely wasn't expecting to be pre-evacuated today," said B.J. Sullivan, Owner Blue Bird Day Cafe

The Blue Bird Day Cafe closed around noon on Friday, so employees could get home and pack up.

Later in the day, the fire started roaring and going right toward some homes.

"They did an incredible job last night at Green Horn. I watched that fire. I could not believe what they were able to do," said Jack Dies, Owner of Sun Valley Insurance.

Dies insures many high dollar homes in the Wood River Valley, and says in advance of the fire, his company and others started clearing out defensible space and spraying fire retardant on some of the huge homes.

"They're putting some troops on the ground in advance, which is a little unusual for insurance. Usually the cavalry comes running after the problems happen," Dies said. 

He's has also been fielding a lot of phone calls from vacation home owner

"Everybody from out of town wants to know what's going on." Dies said, and he has been reassuring them that he's taken measures ahead of the flames.

"They've got more people helping them, which I think makes them feel better at a time like this which I think is pretty nerve-wracking," Dies said.

Print
Email
|