Oh Deer Creek

Wood River Fire & Rescue crews battle flames from a May 29 blaze at Deer Creek Ranch north of Hailey. Photo credit: Wood River Fire & Rescue

Ranch property suffers severe fire damage

By Eric Valentine

A host of Valley fire crews were needed to battle the flames from a blaze that severely damaged the main living area at Deer Creek Ranch. Photo credit: Wood River Fire & Rescue

The 7,000-square-foot home known as Deer Creek Ranch, located approximately two miles west of Highway 75 out Deer Creek Road north of Hailey, was victim to a five-hour blaze that took more than three dozen firefighting personnel to put down on Saturday.

According to Wood River Fire & Rescue fire chief Ron Bateman, a passing motorist called 911 at 12:08 p.m. Saturday, May 29, after observing flames at the property. When the first crews arrived, they observed 10- to 15-foot flame lengths from the rear of the porte cochere (covered driveway) on the west side of the main living quarters. The fire was declared knocked down just after 5 p.m. There were no civilian injuries or deaths because of the fire, although one firefighter was injured and treated and released from St. Luke’s Wood River.

“My wife and I were about a half-mile up the Marshall Lakes Trail when the call came in,” said WRFR Chief Ron Bateman. “I didn’t get to the fire scene until 2:30 p.m. By that time, the crews had been working incredibly hard for more than two hours. I am very impressed by the effort and thankful for all the agencies and personnel that helped out.”

Crews remained on scene until 9 p.m. and, with the help of a private company, secured the scene. WRFR made checks on the structure throughout the night.

Multiple additional departments had to be called to put down the blaze. In total, more than three dozen personnel with a dozen fire apparatus were on scene. Wood River Fire & Rescue, Hailey Fire Department, Bellevue Fire Department, North Blaine County Fire & Rescue, Sun Valley Fire Department and Ketchum Fire Department were dispatched to the structure fire. The Carey Fire Department was requested later in the incident.

Because of the size of the structure and the dollar loss incurred, the Idaho State Fire Marshal’s office was contacted to lead the investigation into cause and origin, Bateman said. The Idaho State Fire Marshal’s office arrived Sunday morning and determined the cause to be electrical in nature. No estimated property loss figure is available. Bateman noted that the deputy fire marshal commented on the “great stop” made by the crews preventing something much worse from spreading across the Valley.

“I believe that we took some very specific lessons learned from a fire in East Fork late in 2020 and applied them on this incident with some success,” Bateman said.

The property made headlines 30 years ago when the so-called “Donald Trump of the West” purchased it. An article from Aug. 24, 1990, in the “Lewiston Tribune” read as follows:

Billionaire California developer Donald L. Bren has bought the 6,800-acre Deer Creek Ranch from Bill Burt. Hailey is located just south of Sun Valley. Bren said he plans to build a home and maintain the property as a working cattle ranch, Burt said.

‘’There were several people who offered me more money who wanted to subdivide,’’ Burt said. ‘’I picked him because he said he was not going to subdivide.”

Bren, 57, the son of the late Hollywood film producer, is estimated to have a net worth of $1.85 billion, making him the 16th wealthiest person in the country, according to Forbes magazine. He is the largest landowner in Southern California, with thousands of apartments, 11.4 million square feet of commercial space and the prevailing interest in a company that owns nearly one-sixth of the land in Orange County.

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