Wildfire near INL grows to 110,000 acres, triggers evacuations, radiological monitoring

As of Wednesday, the Sheep Fire had grown to 110,000 acres near the Idaho National Laboratory and had triggered the evacuations of all nonessential lab employees.

According to INL, the fire is now located closer to the central region of the INL site. The wildfire, ignited on Monday night by lightning, started south of Idaho 33 and north of U.S. 20, near INL’s eastern boundary.

By Wednesday, site operations were curtailed for nonessential staff at all site facilities, except for the specific manufacturing capability and the radioactive waste management complex, according to a news release. Routine radiological monitoring at all site locations is consistent with normal background levels.

INL site facilities are preparing for anticipated loss of commercial power and are switching to on-site backups per existing emergency procedures, according to a news release. The main entrance gate to the facility is now closed to nonemergency vehicles.

Bureau of Land Management and INL fire crews supported by other collaborating municipalities are working together to fight the fire.

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Reporter Ruth Brown covers the criminal justice and correctional systems in Idaho. She focuses on breaking news, public safety and social justice. Prior to coming to the Idaho Statesman, she was a reporter at the Idaho Press-Tribune, the Bakersfield Californian and the Idaho Falls Post Register.