Beaver Creek wildfire chars Idaho; rains flood southern Mississippi

Updated 9:19 AM EDT, Mon August 19, 2013
01:44 - Source: CNN
Idaho under threat from raging wildfires

Story highlights

Beaver Creek Fire has scorched more than 100,000 acres

Half a foot of rain soaks southern Mississippi, floods Gulfport

Rip currents drown elderly couple, rescue official said

Wildfires are blazing in several parts of the country. Are you affected? Send in photos if you can do so safely.

(CNN) —  

The stubborn Beaver Creek wildfire has 1,200 firefighters toiling tirelessly in Idaho to keep it from spreading.

The wildfire scorching Sun Valley, Idaho, has already consumed more than 100,000 acres, and threatened 5,000 homes.

Sun Valley is home to many pricey spreads, including second homes reportedly owned by actors Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis.

Lightning ignited the fire more than two weeks ago. Over the weekend, firefighters benefited from cloud cover and higher humidity. But they only managed to establish 9% by early Monday morning.

Photos: ‘Wall of fire’ threatens homes

The forecast for the next couple of days brings both good and bad news.

The rain from thunderstorms could help quench the flames, while lightning might spark new fires.

Gov. Butch Otter had nothing but praise for the crews.

“They look the worst for wear but you see that smile come across their face and their attitude about how they’re being treated and how they’re being supported by our local folks, by the county folks, the city folks (and) the state department of lands,” he said.

Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfus was among those expressing gratitude.

“The #beavercreekfire is ravaging my family’s hometown, Ketchum, ID,” Dreyfus posted on his official Twitter account. “Thank you, firefighters, and be safe. Houses aren’t worth lives.”

The fire isn’t the only one burning up Idaho.

At least nine large fires have scorched 407,883 acres across Idaho, which is experiencing the most wildland fire activity of any state, according to the Boise-based National Interagency Fire Center.

Meanwhile, a brush fire in Polk County, Oregon, destroyed a family’s private vineyard. Its cause? Fire officials believe the owner hit rocks witha lawn mower sparking it.

“That ignited the area around him, and before they could contain it, it started spreading, and as you can tell by the wind up here, it didn’t take long for it to spread,” Bill Hahn, fire chief of Southwest Polk, told CNN affiliate KOIN.

Soggy South

Meanwhile, a stalled front stretching along the Gulf and Southeast Coasts will bring heavy rain through early this week, fueled by abundant moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

Flood watches and warnings are in place from the Florida panhandle to the Carolinas. Soils in this region are saturated, creating a potential for flash floods.

Six inches of rain soaked southern Mississippi Sunday, leaving First United Gospel Assembly church in Gulfport surrounded by waist-deep water.

“We were in service and we came out and it was flooded out here,” Bishop Otis Rankin who told CNN affiliate WLOX, looking across the church parking lot.

The only worse flooding, he said, was Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The flood waters hit William Harold too.

“We’re in a low lying area, so it floods from time to time, but I got up and there was actually two inches of water in the den,” he said. “So we grabbed all the towels we could and started sopping up what we could.”

Rip currents

In South Florida, strong onshore winds and choppy surf stirred up rip currents throughout the weekend in South Florida, drowning an elderly couple off Miami Beach.

Police said it was one of 50 incidents where swimmers had to rescued from the rough waters.

The couple were swimming with a red float, appearing fine one minute and under water the next, witnesses told CNN affiliate WSVN.

Beachgoers along with Ocean Rescue guards rushed to pull them from the water, according to WSVN.

“They were in cardiac arrest when fire rescue arrived,” said Capt. Adonis Garcia, spokesman for Miami Beach Fire Rescue. “We worked them all the way to the hospital at Mount Sinai when they were pronounced dead.”

CNN’s Dave Alsup, Jessica Jordan, Paul Vercammen, Indra Petersons and Dana Ford contributed to this report.