The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

August 23, 2013

Beastly fire disrupts Idaho vacation heaven

SUN VALLEY, Idaho (AP) — For rockers Huey Lewis and the News, smoke from the massive Sun Valley, Idaho, wildfire known as "the Beast" had band members who famously worried about the heart of rock and roll worrying about their lungs.

They canceled their show, as did the novelists, poets and journalists who convene in this vacation region each summer for a writer's convention. Meanwhile, squadrons of private aircraft whisked the affluent off to locales with cleaner air.

With its mountain backdrop, Sun Valley is normally a playground for the rich, the famous, for super-fit pursuers of outdoor sports or the Big Wood River's feisty brook trout. To many, it's heaven. But "the Beast" has caused disruptions in the sun-basking, fun-loving lifestyle, and the economy.

"This is the worst I've seen it," said Brad Wood, who helps run a shop that rents bikes at the posh Sun Valley Lodge. Wood said he's sent four employees home until business picks up: On Thursday, only five of the 350 bikes they rent were out.

The blaze is among about 50 large fires burning nationwide.

A wildfire outside Yosemite National Park more than tripled in size Thursday, prompting officers to urge residents of nearly 300 homes in a gated community to begin a non-mandatory evacuation and leading scores of tourists to leave the area during peak season.

California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency as the fire grew to 99 square miles and was only 1 percent contained. Two homes and seven outbuildings have been destroyed. The park remains open.

Meanwhile, five wildfires have been burned about 18 square miles of mostly remote areas of Yellowstone National Park on the 25th anniversary of the infamous 1988 fires that burned more than 1,200 square miles inside Yellowstone, or more than a third of the park.

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