A fast-moving wildfire has closed the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), a Department of Energy facility that houses several of the world’s most advanced supercomputers. The fire, which started Sunday afternoon, has already burned at least 4,000 acres of land and moved to within a mile of the southern border of the lab. Local officials were calling for voluntary evacuations of nearby homes.
UPDATE: As of Monday afternoon, the voluntary evacuation of Los Alamos had been changed to mandatory, and the lab reported that the fire had reached its property. “A one-acre spot fire was reported in Water Canyon, within Technical Area 49, on the Lab’s southwestern boundary,” the lab reported. “Air crews dumped water at the site within and brought the blaze under control. The area had been thinned of ground fuels in recent years. About one acre burned and the Lab has detected no off-site releases of contamination.”
“All laboratory facilities will be closed for all activities and nonessential employees are directed to remain off site,” the lab said in a statement on its web site. “All radioactive and hazardous material is appropriately accounted for and protected.”
Operations at Los Alamos Natioal Labs are spread across 43 square miles and more than 1,800 buildings. LANL emergency crews have been dispatched to areas across the Laboratory to protect key facilities, according to the Los Alamos Monitor. “Protected areas include all hazardous and radioactive materials facilities as well as LANL’s proton accelerator and supercomputing centers.”
LANL is home to two of the world’s leading supercomputers, the Cielo and Roadrunner systems. Cielo is the next generation capability class platform for the Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) program. Roadrunner was the world’s first supercomputer to achieve a top performance of more than 1 petaflop/s (10 to the 15th floating point operations per second).