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The sun pokes through smoke from a wildfire burning near Los Alamos, New Mexico. Thousands of residents have fled the town that's home to the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory as a rapidly-growing wildfire approaches, sending up towering plumes of smoke and raining down ash around the sprawling lab's property. The blaze, which began on Sunday, has already destroyed 30 structures south of Los Alamos and forced the closure of the lab - AP.
A top US nuclear research lab was ordered to stay closed on Tuesday after flames reached it and the local town began evacuating, though all high-risk materials were safe, officials said on Monday.
The Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) said there had been 'no off-site releases of contamination' after a one-acre (.40 ha) blaze on the southwestern edge of the research complex northwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
An emergency operations unit remains working at the high-security site, founded during World War II when it began developing nuclear weapons technology, and which nowadays employs some 11,800 people.
The center was ordered closed on Monday after the Las Conchas fire neared the edge of the site, and in an afternoon update authorities said it would remain closed for at least another day.
"The Lab will remain closed on Tuesday because of risks presented by the Las Conchas wild fire and the staged, mandatory evacuation of the Los Alamos town site," where some 42 per cent of its staff live, said the LANL website.
Lab boss Charles McMillan said it had been 'a very long night for the fire crews' fighting to contain the huge blaze, but the decision to evacuate some 12,000 residents of Las Alamos town was taken after the wind changed direction.
A one-acre spot fire was reported in Water Canyon on the Lab’s southwestern boundary, after the blaze jumped across New Mexico State Route 4, said the online update on Monday afternoon.
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