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Sheep Fire near INL grows to 90,000 acres

Sheep Fire 4
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Sheep Fire 3
Posted at 2:08 AM, Jul 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-24 04:11:09-04

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — UPDATE (2:08 a.m.): As of 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night, the Joint Information Center for the Sheep Fire stood down for the night. Most operations for Wednesday have been curtailed, except the Specific Manufacturing Capability and the Radioactive Waste Management Complex. So far, no injuries have resulted from the fire.

UPDATE (3:09 p.m.): Wind and weather in the area of the wildfire are unpredictable, and officials say it may change the firefighting strategy.

Highway 20 and Highway 26 are open in all directions. Radiation monitoring is ongoing, and officials say there is no risk to the public.

The fire has grown to 90,000 acres.

UPDATE: (12:33 p.m.): Non-essential employees have been evacuated at several site facilities, including the Central Facilities Area, Advanced Test Reactor Complex, Naval Reactors Facility, EBR-1, Integrated Waste Treatment Unit, Radioactive Waste Management Complex, Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project and Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center.

The Naval Reactors Facility has curtailed operations for their day and swing-shift employees.

The main INL site entrance is closed to non-emergency traffic at this time. Site facilities are preparing for loss of commercial power and are switching to on-site backups.

The fire has grown to about 85,000 acres.

UPDATE (8:50 a.m.): Non-essential employees evacuated at additional site facilities

As a result of the Sheep Fire, all non-essential employees are being evacuated at several Idaho National Laboratory site facilities: Central Facilities Area, Advanced Test Reactor Complex, Naval Reactors Facility, EBR-1, Integrated Waste Treatment Unit, Radioactive Waste Management Complex, Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project and Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center.

The fire has now consumed 6,500 acres, and is now located closer to the central region of the site. Officials say the fire started south of Highway 33 and north of Highway 20 near INL's eastern boundary.

UPDATE (6 a.m): The Sheep Fire has now burned around 5,000 acres. As a result, operations are reduced at the INL's Materials and Fuels Complex (MFC) and Transient Reactor Test Facility for July 23. Non-essential employees are being asked to stay home today.

ORIGINAL STORY: The Sheep Fire burning near the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) in Idaho Falls began after a lightning strike around 6:30 p.m. on July 22. The fire is south of Highway 33 and north of Highway 20, near the eastern boundary of the INL site.

As of 11:20 Monday night, the fire has burned around 2,500 acres and is less than 10 miles from the INL's Materials and Fuels Complex.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and INL fire crews are working together to fight the fire. Four BLM engines, three INL engines, two INL bulldozers, one BLM bulldozer and two tactical water tenders are on the scene.

At this point, there is not risk to the public. You can stay up to date on all fires burning in Idaho here.