Morning thunderstorm sparks Hanford fires

By Tri-City Herald staffJuly 14, 2012 

An early morning thunderstorm Friday sparked two fires on the Hanford nuclear reservation, one on the Hanford Reach National Monument and one on the south side of Rattlesnake Mountain.

More fires are possible this weekend, with the National Weather Service issues a red flag warning for fire weather through 5 p.m. Sunday for the Mid-Columbia. It's predicting a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms Saturday decreasing to 20 percent Sunday.

At Hanford on Friday, 20 to 30 acres on Gable Mountain burned, with the fire contained about 3:30 a.m., said Deanna Smith, spokeswoman for Mission Support Alliance. In addition about five acres burned near US Ecology, a disposal site for commercial, low-level radioactive waste.

Neither fire burned areas with radiological or chemical contamination, Smith said.

The fire on the national monument burned about 190 acres north of the Columbia River in the Coyote Rapids area, which is not far from Hanford's B Reactor.

Lightning also is being blamed for burning about 125 acres of privately owned open range land on the south side of Rattlesnake Mountain.

Prosser Fire District 3 and Benton Fire District 2 responded at 1:22 a.m. and had the fire controlled at 3:50 a.m. Firefighters remained at the scene until 9 a.m., bulldozing a line around the fire area and putting out hot spots.

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