7 July 2011

After wildfire, Los Alamos MagLab staff return to work

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Staff at the Magnet Lab's Los Alamos facility are returning to work this week after a massive regional wildfire, the Las Conchas fire, required the June 27 evacuation of both the town of Los Alamos and Los Alamos National Lab. The wildfire is the largest in New Mexico history, consuming 128,000 acres and still not fully contained by fire crews.

The town of Los Alamos welcomed residents back on July 3 as the fire's path turned away from the town and laboratory. The lab reopened on Wednesday, July 7, and user operations at the LANL Magnet Lab (NHMFL-Pulsed Field Facility) resumed immediately.

"We are extremely grateful to more than 2,000 firefighters, the laboratory senior management, NNSA, DOE, LASO, NM National Guard, Los Alamos and Albuquerque Police, Los Alamos Protective Force, and hundreds of laboratory personnel for going above and beyond for the Lab and the community of Los Alamos." says Chuck Mielke, Director of the Pulsed Field Facility.

Says Magnet Lab Director Gregory Boebinger, "Let me add my thanks as well. Having been at Los Alamos during the 2000 Cerro Grande fire, I have a visceral appreciation for those who face up to the power and temperamental nature of wildfires. Some flames in the photo reach three times the height of the tallest Ponderosa pines."

Fire crews are still working to subdue the fire, which has already consumed 200 square miles (550 square kilometers) of forest and wildlands, reaching mountains over 11,000 feet.

Although impact should be minimal, questions about how the evacuation and closure at LANL may affect magnet time, contact the head of the Pulsed Field User Program, Jon Betts at 505-667-6039.