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Wildland Fire

The potential for wildland fires on the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Site is routinely high due to the rapid growth of prairie grasses and brush during cool, wet springs followed by extended dry weather in the late spring and early summer months. The resulting dried vegetation provides excellent fuel for potential wildfires every season. Sagebrush, crested wheatgrass, and rabbitbrush are the three main ground fuels that occur on the INL. During a typical fire season, the fire danger rating in May and June is “moderate” and upgraded to “high,” “very high,” or “extreme” during July, August, and September. This is dependent upon seasonal rainfall, humidity, wind, and ambient temperature trends. During the July–September time period, the INL Site characteristically experiences little rainfall (normal annual precipitation is 9.1 inches), low humidity, high daytime temperatures, and prevailing strong winds from the southwest. The INL Site has experienced numerous large fires and averages approximately five fires involving over 15,000 acres per year.

2019 Sheep Fire on the INL Site shown with all major wildland fires since 1994.

Wildland Fire Reports

Fifty five days in fifty seconds. Watch the INL desert bloom again after the 2010 Jefferson Fire. The Jefferson Fire started July 13, 2010, on the Idaho National Laboratory. Winds gusting at more than 50 mph pushed the fire northeast. It eventually burned about 109,000-acres, or 170 square miles. The following spring, a camera was placed within the burn area to document the natural recovery process.

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