The fire broke out yesterday around 1pm and has moved to within a mile of the southern border of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, forcing officials at the Department of Energy facility to close the site today.
The government site was founded during World War II to develop the world's first nuclear weapons - creating the atomic bombs which were used in the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki - and is currently the nation's pre-eminent nuclear facility.
Between 50 and 100 rural homes were under mandatory evacuations while county authorities issued voluntary evacuation orders for both Los Alamos and White Rock.
The laboratory activated its emergency operations centre last night and posted a statement on its website saying: 'All laboratory facilities will be closed for all activities and non-essential employees are directed to remain off site. All radioactive and hazardous material is appropriately accounted for and protected.
'Protected areas include all hazardous and radioactive materials facilities as well as LANL’s proton accelerator and supercomputing centres.'
Officials also said the fire had not yet crossed onto the laboratory property. Read More