NEW MEXICO (WJZ)—A small sigh of relief in New Mexico. Though a wildfire fire continues to spread, firefighters say the Los Alamos National Laboratory is safe from the flames that had been creeping closer.
Andrea Fujii has more.
As the growing wildfire near the town of Los Alamos has already blackened 162 square miles, the nation’s premier nuclear weapons laboratory may now be out of harm’s way.
Hundreds of Los Alamos National Laboratory employees returned to work Saturday.
“We’re checking things like the air-handling system, making sure that the filters weren’t clogged by the smoke,” said Charles McMillan, Los Alamos National Laboratory employee.
The smoke covers Los Alamos, emptied of its 12,000 residents. Many are in shelters. And fire officials don’t know when they will lift the evacuation order.
“We want all resources that are available since this is the No. 1 fire priority in the country,” said Governor Susana Martinez, New Mexico.
The wildfire is the largest in New Mexico’s history.
“This unprecedented dryness just makes the whole state a tinderbox,” said a firefighter.
The 1200 firefighters are now trying to protect a mountain sacred to the Santa Clara Pueblo Indians.
It’s already scoured the reservation’s watershed and cultural sites.
Some residents are angry over the rush to save the lab at the expense of other areas.
“Now that we see that their focus was to save the Los Alamos, what about us? We’re still not even recovered from the last fire,” said Gilbert Naranjo, Santa Clara Pueblo resident
Authorities admit the wilderness is so fire-damaged that flooding during the rainy season may be inevitable.
New Mexico’s governor is asking all residents not to use fireworks this Fourth of July as conditions are just too dry.