Hanford Fire Update - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Hanford Fire Update

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HANFORD, Wash. -- The fire started around one 1:00 Thursday afternoon near Wautoma Road, just off Highway 241. Since then it has eaten up over 15,000 acres.

Victor Beierle was one of the people who saw the fire as it just began to get going. He says, "I was in the shop working and I kind of got a whiff of smoke." And from that initial smell of smoke, the fire grew. Soon, it hopped the 240 and got on the Hanford site.

And firefighters say the fast-moving fire wasn't unexpected. Hanford Fire's Operation Manager Lonnie Click says, "It's gonna run, it's gonna get big. We saw this on Monday."

Fire crews from Benton County, Walla Walla County, and even the Department of Fish and Wildlife came to help to fight the blaze. They were trying to protect the Hanford site. And so far, the Hanford nuclear site has been protected.

But, all non-essential Hanford employees were ordered to leave the site until further notice. People like Victor watched the fire grow but said fires have become common in the area and he wasn't afraid. 

He says, "There's been so many. We just jump in and go fight it." Beierle says until the fire department comes to help out, it is just people helping people. He says, "Just neighbors helping neighbors."

And right now, the fire is still causing road closures. Highway 240 is closed from 225 at the south end and Highway 24 at the north end.

Benton County has asked and received assistance from the state but so far no injuries have been reported, no houses have been evacuated, and the Hanford nuclear site is protected.