The Los Alamos National Laboratory, home to the United States' primary nuclear research facility, closed Monday as a wildfire raged nearby. The Los Conchas fire has surpassed 40,000 acres and reached within a mile of the laboratories, which developed the world's first nuclear weapon in the 1940s. Facility officials have cut gas lines to some buildings as a precaution but say all radioactive and dangerous materials are safe. The fire started Sunday afternoon in the Santa Fe National Forest and exploded out of control within a matter of hours. It is the latest in a string of wildfires across the Southwest, including the Wallow Fire, at 500,000 acres the largest fire in Arizona state history. East of the Las Conches Fire, the Pacheco Canyon Fire is still burning outside of Santa Fe, and to the south, a smaller fire started in the Rio Grande valley on Sunday. Fire experts believe that an unusally dry summer, high winds, a buildup of fuel, and even climate change have made 2011 one of the worst fire seasons in recent history. Thunderstorms are expected tonight in New Mexico, but may bring little or no rainfall.
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