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Escaped ember started LANL fire

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By Roger Snodgrass

A spokesperson for Los Alamos National Laboratory provided additional information about a fire that broke out Wednesday afternoon on laboratory property.

Kevin Roark of the LANL communications office said this morning that the fire was caused by an unanticipated failure of a piece of a scientific apparatus under development for the Nevada Test Site. He said a piece of equipment was under an evaluation using a gunpowder-like explosive.

“We were doing some performance testing on a very specialized high-speed valve,” he said. “For reasons that are still undetermined the valve failed and some hot gasses escaped and ignited some nearby grasses.”

He said the people on the scene were trained to put out spot fires and that they made a “valiant attempt” to do so.

“Somehow or other an ember got loose and got into the surrounding area.” Roark said. “It was picked up by the winds and the fire got away from them.

The Los Alamos Fire Department was called to the scene immediately and joined by some 40 firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, Santa Clara Pueblo and the laboratory’s emergency management division.

Two slurry drops were conducted as a precaution, Roark said.


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