Ross Fork Fire; amy david

Sun Valley firefighter Matt Gelso works on the Ross Fork Fire around Smiley Creek near midnight Sunday.

High winds and hot weather stoked the Ross Fork Fire over Labor Day Weekend, prompting mandatory evacuations—and major reinforcements—against the blaze erupting through the southern Sawtooth Valley.

On Tuesday, a Type 2 federal incident command team began to arrive to take over the fire from a consortium of local agencies and hotshot crews in response to the fire’s aggressive run Sunday through the Beaver Creek drainage toward homes in the popular recreation destinations of Smiley Creek, Sawtooth City and Alturas Lake. That spike drove much of the fire’s shocking growth through the weekend, from 5,500 acres Friday afternoon to 15,000 Monday to more than 24,000 acres Tuesday morning.

At that time, the fire was bumping up against state Highway 75 and spilling into the headwaters of the Salmon River, according to Forest Service spokeswoman Elizabeth Wharton. As of Monday evening, 175 people were working on the fire, with more on the way as members of the “Great Basin Team 3” arrive in the area, Wharton said. The more robust Type 2 team is expected to assume full command Wednesday morning.

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