An Idaho wildfire sparked by a lightning strike Monday burned 90,000 acres in less than 24 hours, forcing the partial evacuation of the nation’s leading nuclear energy research laboratory.
The Sheep Fire quickly grew after starting around 6:30 p.m. near Idaho Falls, in the southeastern part of the state about 70 miles from Wyoming, according to the Idaho National Laboratory’s (INL) emergency Joint Information Center.
It forced the INL, one of the Department of Energy’s national laboratories, to suspend some operations on Tuesday. Non-essential employees were evacuated at several facilities, the laboratory said in a news release. Operations also will be curtailed for non-essential staff on Wednesday, the laboratory said.
Fire crews from both INL and the Bureau of Land Management are working to contain the blaze, but no containment was reported as of Tuesday night.
No structures have been burned and no injuries have been reported, according to the INL’s emergency Joint Information Center.
The Sheep Fire is one of several fires burning in Idaho where dry conditions and rising temperatures are creating a perfect environment for summer wildfires to burn quickly.
The Vader Fire, Canyon Fire and Shady Fire are also burning in Idaho, although they are farther west in National Forest land.
“Heat is building out west,” CNN Meteorologist Michael Guy said. “Temperatures are hot and it’s very dry which is adding fuel to the fires.”