Idaho Wildland Fire Spares Ski Resort

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Castle Rock Wildland Fire

August 28, 2007
SUN VALLEY, ID - (News Release) - Sun Valley's computerized snowmaking system, the world's largest, played a tremendous role in battling the recent Castle Rock wildfire threatening Bald Mountain ski area facilities.

The $12 million Seattle Ridge Lodge, perched at an elevation of 8,800 feet on Baldy, was threatened by torching flames Sunday evening, August 26. Also in the wildfire's path was the Seattle Ridge high-speed detachable quad chairlift and one of the mountain's main communications buildings.

As flames got within 50 yards of the day lodge, snowmaking guns were turned toward the blaze, shooting 150 gallons of water per minute.

Sun Valley's assistant mountain manager and snowmaking manager Peter Stearns and the fire operations supervisors from California Incident Management Team 3 worked side by side to determine where to direct his arsenal.

"The team effort was seamless," Stearns said. "The expertise of the firefighters coupled with our snowmaking technology saved the Seattle Ridge Lodge, the lift, and communication building from the fire's assault Sunday evening."

"The cooperation our team has enjoyed from the Sun Valley Resort has been tremendous on many levels. This is an example where it was crucial to the firefighting effort," said Pat McElroy, Liaison Officer for California Team 3.

About 20 of Sun Valley's snow guns continue to work on selective areas of Baldy to curb the fire and support the fire fighting effort. To see video of the fire, click here.

Normally, a water line and air line work in tandem to deliver a fine mist of snow when temperatures are 32 degrees or colder. When used to fight fire, only the snowmaking system's water lines are used. And, because the entire system is automated, the snowmaking system's computer technology can strategically select and target areas needing the water flow.

Baldy's snowmaking system continues to operate as needed to support the fire fighting effort against the Castle Rock fire, currently the number one priority fire in the nation.