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Potential radiation release worries North Fork residents

Some North Fork, Idaho residents have expressed concern about the potential release of radioactive contaminants into the air from abandoned mines in the Salmon River corridor as a result of the Mustang Complex forest fire. According to fire managers, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality considers that risk to be low. Their primary concern remains poor air quality due to particulate matter in the smoke. The agency is currently setting up equipment in the area to monitor air quality.

Evacuation orders in the Mustang wildfire complex have been upgraded from Level 2 to Level 1 beginning at Noon Friday. The areas affected include Indian Creek, Sage Creek, and the Highway 93 corridor from North Fork to Quartz Creek just north of Gibbonsville, Idaho. The area includes Ditch Creek, Hughes Creek and Hull Creek.

The highway, including all businesses along its corridor, remained open, but anyone traveling through those areas is advised drive with headlights and reduce their speed.

The Mustang complex is now estimated at 332,301 acres and is 20 percent contained. 665 firefighters are still on the scene, including 9 hand crews, 39 engines, 9 water tenders, 3 dozers and 6 helicopters. There have been seven reported injuries.

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