NM wildfire forces evacuations, gov't lab closure

By the Associated Press | June 26, 2011 | 11:14 PM EDT

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) — A fast-moving wildfire has broken out in New Mexico and forced officials at the Los Alamos National Laboratory to close the site Monday as residents nearby evacuate their homes.

The fire has grown to 3,500 acres, or 5.4 miles, since it started at around 1 p.m. Sunday about 12 miles southwest of the town of Los Alamos.

Los Alamos County authorities have issued voluntary evacuation orders for both Los Alamos and White Rock.

Between 50 and 100 rural homes were under mandatory evacuations.

The laboratory, meanwhile, has activated its emergency operations center. Officials said in a news release that all radioactive and hazardous material was being protected and the fire had not yet crossed onto the laboratory property.

The government site was founded during World War II to develop the world's first nuclear weapons.