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The BBC's Alice Grahame
"It could take several more days to control the blaze"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 9 May, 2000, 07:44 GMT 08:44 UK
Forest fire shuts nuclear lab
Blaze at night
Nuclear materials are said to be safe from the blaze
The top secret US nuclear weapons centre at Los Alamos in New Mexico has been forced to shut down as forest fires rage dangerously close.

About 2,000 employees of the Los Alamos National Laboratory - all but the emergency staff - have been evacuated from the facility, the authorities said.

"No nuclear material, explosives or chemicals have been at risk at any time," said Charlie Jankiewicz, spokesman for the Santa Fe National Forest Rangers.

About 500 firefighters, backed by planes and helicopters, are tackling the blaze on the perimeter of the lab.

"Conditions are far better today, but we are probably days away from containing or controlling the fire," Mr Jankiewicz was quoted as saying.

Some 500 houses have been evacuated in the area.

Deliberate blaze

The fire was started deliberately by the National Park Service to clear underbrush at the Bandelier National Monument, but it got out of control.

A separate fire 200 miles (320km) southeast of Los Alamos, near Ruidoso, has burned 5,400 acres (2,160 hectares) and forced the evacuation of another 200 homes.

High wind caused problems with both fires, and New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson declared a state of emergency.

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07 Jan 00 | States
New Mexico
21 Dec 99 | Americas
US scientist sues over spy claims
11 Dec 99 | Americas
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23 Jun 99 | Americas
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