BOISE, Idaho -- Sheriff deputies in Idaho are ordering more homeowners to clear out of the way of a wind-driven wildfire burning near the resort community of Sun Valley.
The Blaine County Sheriff Department has now issued a mandatory evacuation order covering 1,600 homes in the region. It comes as the 100-square-mile Beaver Creek fire burns through sage and pine trees in the mountains and foothills west of the towns of Hailey and Ketchum in central Idaho.
The fire has also prompted managers at the Sun Valley Ski Resort to turn on water cannons across the ski hill to protect lodges and chairlifts.
Fire officials said high, gusty winds, low humidity and tinder-dry vegetation created unstable conditions surrounding the 85-square-mile Beaver Creek Fire.
One home was destroyed Thursday night, said Bronwyn Nickel, a spokeswoman for Blaine County, where the fire is burning.
More than 600 firefighters are battling the blaze in the affluent resort region that serves as a second home to celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Hanks.
In addition, private insurers have sent in their own crews to provide structural protection for homes with values that can reach tens of millions of dollars, Nickel said.
Sheriff issues pre-evacuation orders
The Blaine County Sheriff's Office says the cities of Ketchum and Sun Valley are under pre-evacuation orders due to Beaver Creek Fire. The area of impact stretches from Indian Creek to North Fork on both sides of Highway 75, including Warm Springs, Croy Creek and the two resort towns.
Officials say due to the serious circumstances of the fire and unpredictable nature of wind and fire patterns, they are urging people to avoid non-essential travel on Highway 75, especially if you are heading north. They are urging people to stay away.
Also, if you live in the North Valley and south then you should make preparations to return to your homes and families as soon as possible.
Residents and vacationers appear to be heeding the warning. Just after noon our crews said Highway 75 was one big traffic jam with lots of cars, trucks and SUVs seen leaving Ketchum and Sun Valley.
Emergency managers are asking the public limit the use of their cell phones so that essential services can continue in the area.
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