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Wildfire reaches Los Alamos nuclear facility

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Dominic Rushe
London Guardian
June 28, 2011

Los Alamos

A raging forest fire threatened the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory in New Mexico on Monday and led to the evacuation of thousands of nearby residents.

The fire started in Santa Fe national forest on Sunday and has so far burnt 200 sq km (78 sq miles). The Las Conchas blaze started a 4,000-sq-metre “spot fire” on the sprawling property where scientists worked on the first atomic bomb 50 years ago. So far several thousand people have fled the town of Los Alamos, which has a population of about 12,000.

According to local authorities firefighters were able to douse the fire at the nuclear facility. Los Alamos National Laboratory officials said all radioactive materials stored at the lab were safe from flames. The lab has been closed while firefighters monitor the blaze.

The wildfire is being driven by 60mph winds. The fire is believed to be several miles from the laboratory’s essential structures. The 100-sq-km property’s plutonium facility is on the north-east side of the complex, while the fire seems to be moving south and east, lab spokesman Kevin Roark told Reuters. The fire has so far destroyed properties outside Los Alamos but has not entered the city itself.

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This article was posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 at 3:25 am

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