LOS ALAMOS, N.M. — Fire managers said Tuesday was a “make or break day” for ensuring flames from a wildfire don’t race into a northern New Mexico town that is home to a government nuclear laboratory that stores sensitive materials.
The wildfire — which has swelled to about 93 square miles — sparked a spot fire at the Los Alamos National Laboratory on Monday. The fire was quickly contained, and lab officials said no contamination was released and radioactive materials stored at spots on the sprawling lab were safe.
Lab officials and fire managers said they were confident the flames wouldn’t reach key buildings or areas where radioactive waste is stored in barrels above ground.
Teams from the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Radiological Assistance Program were headed to the scene to help assess any nuclear or radiological hazards, said Kevin Smith, Los Alamos Site Office manager.
The lab will be closed through at least Wednesday, with only essential employees permitted back onto laboratory property.
The wildfire has destroyed 30 structures south and west of Los Alamos. About 12,500 residents have been evacuated from Los Alamos, an orderly exit that didn’t even cause a traffic accident.
ISS crew boards escape pods due to space debris
MOSCOW — The International Space Station’s crew briefly took seats in escape capsules due to a close encounter with space debris, Russian Mission Control said Tuesday.
Spokesman Valery Lyndin said the six crewmen spent about half an hour Tuesday in two Soyuz escape capsules docked at the station before the space junk passed by without jeopardizing the station.
The station periodically faces close encounters with debris, and engineers normally adjust the station’s orbit to reduce the probability of impact. If monitors fail to spot the space junk in time to perform the maneuver, the crew is ordered to board the capsules.
The station is manned by Americans Michael Fossum and Ronald Garan Jr., Russians Sergey Volkov, Andrei Borisenko and Alexander Samokutayev, and Japanese Satoshi Furukawa.
Uganda lightning strikes kill 15 in 1 week
KAMPALA, Uganda — Officials in Uganda say a recent spate of lightning strikes has killed 15 people in one week.
Several police officials across the East African nation cited incidents. In all, they said 52 people have also been wounded by the strikes.
Police official Ivan Kimalyo said Tuesday that a strike last week killed three schoolchildren who were playing soccer outside. He said 10 children were wounded in that incident in eastern Uganda. Another strike three days later killed one child and injured six others, he said.
Three radio stations also reported lightning had damaged their transmission equipment.
Meteorologist Ken Kizza Aderi said the lack of lightning conductors on buildings could be partly responsible for the deaths.
Yemen bombs anti-government tribal area
SANAA, Yemen — Yemeni government warplanes and artillery pounded several villages of anti-government tribes north of the capital Tuesday, killing at least three people, a senior tribal leader said.
Sheik Ali Youssef of the Naham tribe said that Republican Guard forces, which are commanded by embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s son, began bombarding the villages scattered in the Naham mountain area, some 20 miles north of Sanaa, on Monday, continued throughout Tuesday.
Youssef said at least three people were killed, 48 houses destroyed and hundreds of people forced to flee their homes in the assault.
The Naham mountain area has seen clashes between government forces and anti-Saleh tribes since Yemen’s popular uprising against Saleh’s rule began in mid-February. Tribesmen there frequently have prevented government troops stationed at bases in the area from deploying to the capital.
Also Tuesday, Yemen’s Defense Ministry said government forces killed nine al-Qaida suspects in clashes in Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province in southern Yemen.