It all began around midnight on Wednesday, August 7th. A lightning strike ignited a fire to the west of Hailey. For the next 24 days, the Beaver Creek Fire would consume 111,490-acres, threaten hundreds of homes and force thousands of residents and visitors to evacuate.
A second straight low snow year coupled with beetle-killed trees, low humidity and strong winds created the ideal conditions for a perfect firestorm.
During its peak, the Beaver Creek Fire was the nation’s #1 fire priority. More than 1,800 firefighters from across the country came to fight it, accompanied by the National Guard and the American Red Cross. The idyllic Idaho valley of the Big Wood became a war zone, where the fire threatened to win—almost reaching the road, Highway 75, by Greenhorn Gulch and dancing for days just above Hailey on the face of Carbonate Mountain. Amazingly, no lives were lost and only one home was destroyed! Local residents will be forever grateful to the heroic efforts of the firefighters.
Silhouette of the burned trees from the Castle Rock Fire in 2007, taken from the top of the West Fork of Warm Springs Road watching the progress of the Beaver Creek Fire just before the road was closed. Photo courtesy of Wyatt Caldwell.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: The view from the top of Saddle Road in Ketchum, overlooking Zenergy, as the fire makes its way north towards Baker Lake. By Cody Haskell; One of seven Air-Crane helicopters returns to battle after refilling its tank with 2,000 gallons of pond water; Two days after it started, the Beaver Creek Fire burns its way past Willow Creek, near Fairfield. By Steve Dondero; Nearly a dozen helicopters flooded the skies like this one refilling a bucket in Greenhorn Gulch before heading back into the firestorm. Photos by Steve Dondero.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Firefighters from 33 different agencies throughout the country came to battle the Beaver Creek Fire. By Max Monahan; A helicopter drops water on flames near the base of Carbonate Mountain in Hailey. By Cody Haskell; The Stinker Station in Hailey, with views of Carbonate Mountain on fire in the background. By Max Monahan; The reflection of the fire seen on one of the Greenhorn Gulch ponds that provided quick turn-around for helicopter pilots—these ponds proved critical in keeping houses safe despite the massive inferno. By Steve Dondero.
TOP: A MAFFS C-130, one of a half-dozen planes used on the fire, lays down a retardant line near Imperial Gulch in the mid-Wood River Valley, as the flames head towards Greenhorn Gulch. By Steve Dondero.
BOTTOM: Locals Will Roth, Mark Ryskiewicz, and Danny Gariepy watch as the fire creeps over into Greenhorn and Timber Gulches. By Yancy Caldwell.
TOP: Incident Command Post (ICP) for the over 1,800 firefighters, on Buttercup Road in Hailey. A plume of smoke looms to the west, over Deer Creek, as the fire continued to spread north. By Wyatt Caldwell.
BOTTOM: A burned-out fence, near the Golden Eagle subdivision in Greenhorn Gulch. Of the hundreds of homes threatened, miraculously only one house was lost. By Mark Oliver.