Firefighters have been working relentlessly near Los Alamos, New Mexico to put out spot fires burning ahead of a massive wildfire named the Las Conchas fire.
The AP reports that 12,500 people have been evacuated from Los Alamos as a result of the blaze, which has now grown to cover an area of 93 square miles.
The wildfire, which began Sunday, grew Monday to roughly 50,000 acres, or 78 square miles. It had destroyed 30 structures south and west of Los Alamos by early Monday and forced the closure of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a research facility that has several metric tons of plutonium and other hazardous materials.
The lab, which employs about 15,000 people, covers more than 36 square miles and includes about 2,000 buildings at nearly four dozen sites or “technical areas.” Those include research facilities as well as waste-disposal sites. Despite the growing fire’s proximity to the Laboratory, officials have stressed that everything is under control.
“No facilities face immediate threat, and all nuclear and hazardous materials are accounted for and protected,” officials said.
The southwestern US has been stricken by giant wildfires this year, with millions of acres scorched in New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.
To the west of New Mexico, the biggest blaze in Arizona history was 82 percent contained after burning through 538,000 acres in the White Mountains in northeast Arizona. The blaze, which has been burning for nearly a month, is believed to have been caused by a campfire.