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Washington Fish and Wildlife Dept. Spokesman Discusses Firefighting Efforts Near Nuclear ReservationAired June 29, 2000 - 1:01 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: For the second time in two months, a wildfire is burning on a U.S. nuclear property. It's scorched at least 200,000 acres on and around the Hanford Reservation in Washington State. Nuclear waste is stored there. Three dozen homes, barns and other buildings have been destroyed, one person has been critically burned, and more than 10,000 residents have been told to get out.
Last month, you remember, fire burned near the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
Dale Warrenier of the Washington State Fish and Wildlife Department joins us by telephone.
Thank you for being with us, sir. And can you tell us, has there been any improvement in fighting this fire?
DALE WARRENIER, WASHINGTON FISH & WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT: Well, the fire burned, actually, throughout the night. There were three dozen structures lost. We're trying to assess how many of those were actually homes. We're expecting winds again today, and wind is a firefighters worst enemy. So far, we have people on the fireline not only trying to corral this fire, but also specifically trying to protect the structures, to make sure that -- do our best to see that no more are lost.
ALLEN: Well, with the winds still being such a threat, do you think this fire is going to get worse before you can make things better?
WARRENIER: Well, at the moment, it's 10:00 here and it is calm so far, but winds are predicted to pick up this afternoon. And hopefully we can get a handle on this this morning and hit those areas that would cause the same problem.
ALLEN: Well, what about the contaminated areas, Mr. Warrenier? Is there a threat to these areas? What could happen?
WARRENIER: The Department of Energy has been monitoring air samples and so forth, making sure there hasn't been any radioactive debris in the air, and the fire path either away from these facilities or they burned around them. But the threat has diminished as far as the dangers on the nuclear reservation. ALLEN: What could happen if fire threatened this particular area?
WARRENIER: Well, they know that fire is a part of this landscape and they're very well prepared in that they have lots of protection around these areas as far as gravel and areas that will not burn. So they are very proactive in putting in safety measures for just an event such as this.
ALLEN: Dale Warrenier, thank you for talking with us, and we'll continue to follow developments on this huge fire in Washington State.
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