Wildfires are closing in on the central Idaho resort town of Ketchum. Hundreds of people have been evacuated.
Some 1400 firefighters are on it. They’re even using snow-making machines to beat back the flames. The fight against the Castle Rock Fire is drawing resources from throughout the state and beyond.
Correspondent Elizabeth Wynne Johnson went to Ketchum and has this report.
The crackly voice on the radio pretty much says it all.
Voice on radio: “It’s definitely a lot more active compared to yesterday….”
The usual Sawtooth Mountain views are obscured by smoke. The pungent air leaves an acrid taste in your mouth. On nearly every street corner in town, hand-made signs thank the firefighters.
A small army has descended on this town over the last week. A tent city. With a catering team. And its own vehicle and fuel services.
Mary Waldo of Snohomish, Washington is dishing out Salisbury steak and mashed potatoes to crews from Canada to Texas.
Mary Waldo: “We get to know people. They get to know us. You know they’re from the south because they call you ‘Miss Mary’ “
Idaho Governor Butch Otter’s been a regular fixture at the incident command post. The extraordinary value of private property at risk has inspired the governor to, as he puts it, ‘cut through a lot of red tape.’
Butch Otter: “A billion dollars’ worth of damage to a community like this would take a long time to repair…obviously then it destroys the local tax base to some extent. And displaces people.”
Not just those in high-end mountain getaways. The evacuation area includes mobile home parks that house many of the resort town’s working families.