08/22/2011 08:30 pm ET Updated Oct 22, 2011

No threat seen from fire near Idaho nuclear complex

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - Firefighters on Monday raced to contain a wildfire that had burned 128 acres west of a federal nuclear reactor complex in Idaho, but officials said the blaze posed no radiation risk to the public.

Part of the burn area covered about 35 acres on the northwest edge of the Idaho National Laboratory, an 890-square-mile Department of Energy nuclear research complex in the high desert of eastern Idaho, officials said.

The fire, burning in parched grasslands and sagebrush, was 10 miles west of an advanced nuclear test reactor, one of three active reactors at the lab, said facility spokesman Earl Johnson.

The wildfire posed "no known radiological hazard to the public," lab officials said in a statement.

Roughly 40 firefighters were battling the fire, which briefly closed a state highway and damaged utility poles.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation, Johnson said.

The advanced nuclear test reactor, the largest of its kind in the world, is used to study radiation effects and to produce materials for treatment of cancer, according to the facility.

(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman; Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Jerry Norton)