New Mexico fires entered the property of a nuclear facility in Los Alamos, Monday.
Pat Vasquez-Cunningham/The Albuquerque Journal/AP
A raging wildfire Monday briefly entered the property of the preeminent U.S. nuclear facility, Los Alamos National Laboratory, a vast complex that houses research laboratories and a plutonium facility.
A mandatory evacuation was ordered for the town of Los Alamos, which has a population of about 12,000. The speed at which the fire has grown surprised fire officials.
The laboratory, which ensures the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, is a national security research facility located in the Jemez mountains of northern New Mexico.
It was set up in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project to create the first atomic bomb and still maintains the nation's largest nuclear weapons arsenal.
Firefighters were able to douse flames on a one-acre ''spot fire'' just inside the southwestern boundary of the lab site, about 25 miles outside Santa Fe, authorities said.