Fire Burns On Idaho National Laboratory Property

Jul 24, 2019

Update 07/26/19 9:15 a.m.: The fire, which burned 113,000 acres and was 60% contained on Thursday morning, is expected to be fully contained by Friday evening, according to the INL.

 

Update 07/24/19 1:50 p.m.: As of Wednesday morning, the Sheep Fire has burned 110,000 acres. Non-essential employees were told not to come into work Wednesday until further notice. The INL says this is the biggest fire in the lower-48 states so far this year.

 

 

The Sheep Fire is burning near Idaho Falls and the Idaho National Laboratory. The lab says the fire began after a lightning strike at around 6:30 pm on Monday evening.

Tuesday morning the reported acreage of the fire was about 6,500 acres. In just a few hours, the fire grew to an estimated is 90,000 acres. At over 800 square miles, Idaho National Laboratory's property is roughly the size of Rhode Island.

Unpredictable fire behavior prompted the evacuation of all non-essential employees from several facilities at the nuclear lab.

 

Idaho National Laboratory staff said they do not yet have an estimate on the area of the fire that has been contained. They also said the laboratory is preparing for a potential loss in commercial power. In that case, back-up generators would be turned on. 

 

The fire came within a couple of miles of a facility that processes nuclear waste, though the laboratory says there are no direct risks posed to the public at this point.

 

The National Weather Service announced a Red Flag warning through midnight for much of southern Idaho. The dry air and potential thunderstorms with high gusts of wind are prime conditions for fires. 

 

Editor's note: This post will be updated when additional information is available. 

 

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

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