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Crews stop wildfires near Los Alamos lab

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. -- Firefighters were confident yesterday that they had stopped the advance of a wildfire headed toward the Los Alamos nuclear lab and the nearby town that now sits empty for the second time in 11 years, even as they battled the blaze that crept into a canyon that descends into the town and parts of the lab.

Of 1,000 firefighters on the scene, 200 were battling the blaze in Los Alamos Canyon, which runs past the old Manhattan Project site in town and a 1940s era dump site where workers are near the end of project to clean up low-level radioactive waste.

The World War II Manhattan Project developed the first atomic bomb, and workers from the era dumped hazardous and radioactive waste in trenches along six acres atop the mesa where the town sits.

"The threat is pretty limited," said Kevin Smith, the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration site manager for Los Alamos, which oversees the lab.

Meanwhile, residents of Los Alamos, who fled the town earlier in the week under an evacuation order, won't be allowed back home until Sunday at the earliest, Tucker said.-- AP

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