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Special Event

Energy Department Officials Hold News Conference on Wildfire Burning Near Hanford Nuclear Reservation

Aired June 29, 2000 - 2:22 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We now are going to head out to Richland, Washington where the Department of Energy is holding a news conference near the Hanford nuclear facility. There's no one at the microphone right now.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The winds are staying calm, no increased fire activity. Only within the fire perimeter is there any activity. And These unburned islands that were left from the initial burn, those are some going up if you see some smoke out there. But there is no fire currently threatening the perimeter. If you see a retardant airplane in the air, they -- there may have been an area that they wanted to just knock down and make sure. But as of at least a half hour, hour ago, there was no perimeter activity.

Things are going well. The test is going to come this afternoon, we're guessing 2:00, when this inversion lifts off and the wind picks up. So that will be the true test of this morning's efforts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Deanna. Deanna Westover (ph) of Benton County.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First, our primary concern is for the safety of the citizens in the affected areas, and the safety of the fire personnel on scene. At this point, we still have evacuation recommendations for Benton City. They have lifted that evacuation recommendation for a very small portion. That is the area south of the Old Inland Empire Highway and west of District Line Road.

They continue to have shelters open at Southridge High School in Kennewick, Howsell Middle School (ph) in Prosser, and the Century United Protestant Church in Richland. We do have reports that the National Guard Alpha Company has approximately 49 people on the ground for support, support with security in the evacuated areas and any access control where that may be necessary. We have an additional road closure at this time: 240 North -- 240 from Kingsgate North is opened back up. There is access to Benton City from Interstate 82.

WATERS: All right, a briefing on the wildfire we've been reporting near the Hanford nuclear facility, a storage -- nuclear storage facility near Benton City. You just heard the report out of Benton City. That's the area where several structures were destroyed, many of them homes. There are still evacuation recommendations in effect there and some shelters have been set up. National Guard troops are there for support.

But the outlook is good. It's going well, according to the folks responsible for letting us now about how it's going out there. It's calm at the moment. No new fire activity is reported. They're just containing the areas which have been ignited. The winds will pick up later on this afternoon. They said that will be the true test. We'll continue to follow along.

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