Nevada, Idaho, Arizona fires burning, and Smokey the Bear is on it

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The Smokey Bear balloon.

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Wildfires in Nevada, Idaho and Arizona are keeping crews busy.

The 250-acre Cedar Canyon fire in Lander County and the 150-acre Texas fire in Elko County are burning in Nevada.

A Bureau of Land Management tweet on Thursday showed an air attack on the Cedar Canyon fire, which is burning about 40 miles southwest of Battle Mountain.

And in northeastern Nevada, Smokey the Bear had a busy weekend ahead. A hot-air balloon with the iconic character was set to make an appearance at the Ruby Mountain balloon festival.

At the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, staff went back to work today despite a nearby wildfire. A change in wind direction pushed the fire away from the sprawling site in Idaho, the nation’s primary nuclear research facility.

The fire no longer poses a threat to key research facilities, lab officials said Wednesday evening.

Before the wind shifted, the Idaho blaze got close to several lab facilities, including one where high-level radioactive materials are studied and another holding a nuclear reactor, spokeswoman Kerry Martin said. She said she didn’t know how close the flames got to those buildings.

The wildfire that ignited Monday is estimated to have burned about 176 square miles. Non-essential laboratory employees were evacuated. Lab officials said the fire was estimated to be 60% contained Wednesday evening.

The nuclear research site includes reactors and research materials, as well as facilities for processing high-level nuclear waste and other radioactive waste.

Rain around Flagstaff, Arizona, helped firefighters battle a wildfire that has raged for days in a scenic mountain pass but was raising the risk of flooding, officials said.

Rich Nieto, incident commander for a wildfire burning near Flagstaff, Ariz., talks about firefighting strategy Tuesday, July 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca)

Firefighters worked Wednesday to bolster containment lines, directly attack the blaze and extinguish flames in the perimeter, said fire information officer Steve Kliest. The fire has burned nearly 3 square miles since Sunday.

Forecasters warned of possible flooding in Flagstaff neighborhoods with aging drainage systems below the fire. Thunderstorms skirted the fire earlier Wednesday but more are predicted Thursday — bringing the possibility of drenching the fire scarred-areas of the Coconino National Forest surrounding Flagstaff, a popular mountain getaway in the largest ponderosa pine forest in the U.S.

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