Wildfire Reaches Los Alamos

Blaze on outskirts of lab complex extinguished
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 28, 2011 1:19 AM CDT
Updated Jun 28, 2011 2:25 AM CDT
Jeni Morrison does one last check before leaving the town of Los Alamos due to the mandatory evacuation order yesterday.   (AP Photo/Craig Fritz)
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(Newser) – A wildfire raging in New Mexico jumped a highway and set fire to an acre at the edge of the Los Alamos National Laboratory property, triggering the evacuation of thousands of nearby residents. The fire, which hit an area once used for underground tests of radioactive explosives, was extinguished safely and no off-site release of contamination was detected, AP reports. Radioactive materials stored elsewhere on the site were safe from the flames, lab officials say.

The Cerro Grande fire in 2000 scorched 47,000 acres of mountain forest in the region, leaving less fuel for the current fire, and destroyed some 100 buildings on lab property. "We're in a much better place than we were 11 years ago," said the lab's director. The current Las Conchas blaze started in the Santa Fe national forest and has raced through some 50,000 acres.

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