‘Like nothing I’ve ever seen’: Ten years later, Wood River Valley reflects on worst wildfire in its recorded history

Nelson Mills, with the U.S. Forest Service, talks about forest management. 


SAWTOOTH NATIONAL FOREST NEAR KETCHUM — Rich Bauer still remembers the moment he first set eyes on the Beaver Creek Fire, a mega wildfire that aggressively torched close to 115,000 acres west of Hailey and Ketchum 10 years ago.

“I was coming back from the Braun Brothers Reunion in Mackay, and I could see this massive header,” said Bauer, who was captain of Wood River Fire and Rescue at the time. “I was like, ‘Uh oh, we’re gonna be in trouble pretty soon.’”

The wildfire, which would become the valley’s largest blaze in recorded history, had been sparked by lightning a few days prior, late in the evening of Aug. 7, about 13 miles southwest of Hailey in the Beaver Creek drainage. It would not be fully contained until Aug. 31.

“I got back into town and we immediately started ramping up resources from Hailey and Ketchum,” Bauer said.

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