Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Press Release: Lightning-Caused Fire Near Umatilla Depot

Several thousand acres burn at Umatilla Chemical Depot. Lightning caused several wildfires.

Umatilla Chemical Depot, Hermiston, Ore. - Depot officials have revised estimates about lightning-caused wildfires on the Umatilla Chemical Depot. Preliminary estimates are that fires have now burned several thousand of the depot's 19,729 acres.

The fires are burning in the northern portion of the depot and adjacent property off post. Portions of some fires are now contained. Firefighters from the depot, Boardman, Irrigon and Hermiston Fire Departments are fighting the blazes per mutual aid agreements.

The depot's chemical weapons stockpile is not involved in the fire. Chemical weapons at the depot are stored in reinforced concrete earth-covered "igloos" designed to resist fire or other threats. All nerve agent has been destroyed; the only remaining munitions are bulk containers of mustard blister agent that do not have any explosive components.

As previously reported:

* The first fire started at about 6:20 p.m. today.

* One emergency response worker suffered a knee injury while exiting a vehicle and was taken to the depot clinic.

* Depot workers moved vehicles and other equipment out of the path of the fire.

* Depot officials notified off-post emergency operations centers in Umatilla and Morrow counties, Ore.; Benton County, Wash.; those in Oregon and Washington states; and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

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