Residents want answers about why US Ecology fire started

NYE COUNTY, Nev. - Government officials are still looking into what may have caused a low-level radiological storage facility to go up in flames in Nye County were released Tuesday. 

The site that was once run by U.S. Ecology near Beatty, Nevada.  U.S. Ecology closed the facility in 1992.  The state took over monitoring it in 1997, which is why the state sent investigators to the scene to figure out what sparked the blaze. 

The facility fire caused the closure of U.S. 95 in both directions Sunday and Monday.

The fire eventually burned itself out. 

"From an operational standpoint, I believe it was the right thing to do," said Pete Mulvihill, State Fire Marshall.

Government officials surveyed the area with a helicopter Monday, but the results came back negative for gamma radiation.

Ground crews said they also didn't find any radioactive waste around the fire.  The all clear was given, and the area was reopened Monday at 5:30 p.m.

"They got about 6-feet from the center of the burn -- from what I understand -- and found no radiological material," said Caleb Cage, Director of Nevada Division of Emergency Management.

Operations are back to normal at the U.S. Ecology site, but residents say they're still looking for answers.

"We didn't even hear about it when it happened, according to Cindy Craig, a resident.  "We weren't even get told about it until the next day."

State officials addressed the media from Carson City Tuesday, but there weren't a lot of answers.

"We're not exactly sure what was burning in that pit," said Mulvihill.

State officials say the fire started in one of 22 covered trenches used to store low-level radioactive material like gloves or lab equipment.


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