Los Alamos Fire Continues To Rage A large wildfire in New Mexico has driven 20,000 people from their homes and is threatening the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The wildfire has burned roughly 70,000 acres — and is just 3 percent contained. Firefighters continue to battle a blaze.
NPR logo

Los Alamos Fire Continues To Rage

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/137506932/137507496" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Los Alamos Fire Continues To Rage

Los Alamos Fire Continues To Rage

Los Alamos Fire Continues To Rage

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/137506932/137507496" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

A large wildfire in New Mexico has driven 20,000 people from their homes and is threatening the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The wildfire has burned roughly 70,000 acres — and is just 3 percent contained. Firefighters continue to battle a blaze.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

NPR's Ted Robbins reports on concerns that the fire could reach barrels of nuclear waste that are stored there.

TED ROBBINS: The Las Conchas fire is burning trees and dry brush with high winds pushing it along. Fire spokesman Terry McDermott says it's moving so fast, he's trying to keep up with it.

TERRY MCDERMOTT: I'm just looking at our latest map here. We're just trying to figure it out. As you might expect, this is a pretty fluid situation.

ROBBINS: In 2000, a devastating fire hit the nearby town of Los Alamos, destroying hundreds of homes, but no radiation was released from the lab. Still, between then and now, Terry McDermott says the lab acted.

MCDERMOTT: The labs took extreme measures to not only thin their areas so it would be easier to firefight, but they removed a great deal of the materials that would've caused some concerns.

ROBBINS: Los Alamos lab spokesman Kevin Roark says the barrels are under domes, and fire won't get near them because there's nothing to burn around them.

KEVIN ROARK: The grounds around these storage domes are completely devoid of vegetation, and most are covered with gravel or asphalt or bare earth.

ROBBINS: Roark also says the barrels themselves can withstand fire, and there's a sprinkler system.

ROARK: And the fire department also has the capability, should there be an imminent threat, which there isn't, but should there be one, the fire department has the capability to go in and spray fire-retardant foam.

ROBBINS: Ted Robbins, NPR News.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.