Idaho State Journal
8,000 acres go up in smoke at INEEL
By Anne Minard
Journal Staff Writer
POCATELLO - A range fire burned nearly 8,000 acres on the Idaho
National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory before being
contained early Monday.
"It's 100 percent contained, meaning it's not out but surrounded
with a fire break," said Jason Bohne, a spokesman for the
"The last report we've had is the winds are very low. They
changed crews this morning, so there's a fresh crew of our guys
and BLM guys," he said early Monday. INEEL fire crews continued
enhancing the fire line and monitoring for hot spots throughout
Bohne said the fire did not burn through any known contaminated
areas at the site.
The site maintained 12 sample locations throughout the fire
that "indicated decay patterns of naturally occurring radioactivity,"
Bohne said, adding radiation counts were similar to those taken
during site fires earlier this summer. More specific test data
will be available at a later date, he said.
First spotted about 3 p.m. Sunday, the fire was located on the
INEEL desert site about three miles north of U.S. Highway 20.
It probably started as a result of lightning strikes Saturday
evening, smoldered throughout the day Sunday and erupted into
flames when afternoon winds picked up.
INEEL Firefighters and heavy equipment operators tried to direct
the fire toward an area that burned earlier this summer. They
were assisted by firefighters and two fire trucks from Arco.
A Bureau of Land Management air tanker dropped fire retardant
on the flames.
Cooler temperatures and calm winds aided the firefighting efforts
during the night, and the fire burn area did not grow appreciably.
At its height late Sunday evening, the blaze burned toward the
southeast and at one point was within a half-mile from the Power
Burst Facility complex. The employees working at the facility
were voluntarily evacuated as a precautionary measure Sunday
afternoon, and preventive measures were taken to apply fire-retardant
foam to propane fuel tanks. No injuries were reported, and operations
there returned to normal Monday.