Fire near Idaho’s nuclear research facility prompts evacuation

A fast-moving brush fire in eastern Idaho on Tuesday prompted an evacuation of “non-essential employees” from several of the state’s nuclear research facilities.

The “Sheep Fire,” which is south of Highway 33 and north of Highway 20, was sparked by a lightning strike around 6:30 p.m. Monday, KBOI-TV reported.

A fast-moving brush fire has prompted an evacuation of non-essential employees from the Idaho National Laboratory.

A fast-moving brush fire has prompted an evacuation of non-essential employees from the Idaho National Laboratory. (Bureau of Land Management Idaho Fire)

By Tuesday the fire had grown to about 85,000 acres and traveled near the Idaho National Laboratory, the state’s nuclear research facility in Idaho Falls, KIVI-TV reported.

“Non-essential employees” were evacuated Tuesday from several INL site facilities including, Central Facilities Area, Advanced Test Reactor, Naval Reactors Facility, EBR-1, Integrated Waste Treatment Unit, RWMC, AMWTP, and INTEC, according to INL.

Firefighters from INL and the Bureau of Land Management were on the scene to combat the fire, according to the Bureau of Land Management Idaho Fire.

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The Naval Reactors Facility, meanwhile, has curtailed operations for its day and swing-shift employees, KIVI-TV reported. Gate 1, INL’s main entrance, is closed to non-emergency traffic, the report said.

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Other INL facilities are preparing for the loss of commercial power as they switch to on-site backups, the East Idaho News reported.