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Wildfire Threatens Los Alamos National Lab


A wildfire looms in the hills above Los Alamos National Labs Sunday. (Luis Sánchez Saturno/AP)

The Los Alamos National Laboratory will be closed Monday as fire crews battle a wildfire raging nearby, a statement on the facility's website said.

"All laboratory facilities will be closed for all activities and nonessential employees are directed to remain off site," the statement said. "Employees are considered nonessential and should not report to work unless specifically directed by their line managers."

The Los Conchas fire, which flared up Sunday afternoon, was reported to be less than a mile from the lab's southwestern boundaries late Sunday, another statement from the facility said.

Special crews have been dispatched to Water Canyon near the lab to protect the facility, according to the statement.

"All radioactive and hazardous material is appropriately accounted for and protected," the lab said.

Los Alamos, a center of American nuclear science, is one of the nation's top national-security research facilities.

It "enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns," its website says.

The lab is about 35 miles northwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico, on 36 square miles of property owed by the Department of Energy. More than 11,000 employees work at the facility.

It is a joint project of Bechtel National, the University of California, the Babcock & Wilcox Co., and URS for the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.

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