updated 8/27/2007 7:18:54 PM ET 2007-08-27T23:18:54

Firefighters sprayed water with snowmaking machines to save a $12 million log ski lodge from a wildfire that has forced the evacuation of more than 1,000 homes, officials said Monday.

The blaze was 31 percent contained Monday and fire managers said cooler, cloudy weather with wind of no more than 20 mph gave them a chance to gain ground against the flames.

Wind gusting to 45 mph on Sunday had fanned the main blaze and spread smaller spot fires that blackened ski runs on part of Sun Valley Resort’s Bald Mountain and nearly reached the Seattle Ridge Lodge above the resort town of Ketchum, fire and resort officials said.

Firefighters working with resort crews cranked up a dozen snowmaking guns Sunday night, using the high-pressure sprays to put out the spot fires and soak the ground around the 17,000-square-foot lodge, said Jack Sibbach, the resort’s sales and marketing director.

“We’re all feeling a lot better today,” Sibbach told The Associated Press on Monday. “We were all pretty anxious last night. The firefighters did a tremendous job last night. That building would be tough to replace.”

The main blaze has led to the evacuation of more than 1,000 homes in and near Ketchum and blackened about 54 square miles since it was started by lightning earlier this month.

Buildings saved, nobody injured
Flames have gotten to within 1½ miles of residential areas south and west of the central Idaho town.

No buildings have been damaged and no injuries have been reported, but evacuations remain in effect, firefighting spokesman Jay Nichols said.

Public schools, scheduled to open for classes on Monday, were closed through Tuesday.

Sibbach said Sun Valley Resort remained open and a convention planned there this week will go on as planned.

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