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Mandatory evacuation ordered as blaze threatens Los Alamos

Jane Phillips / The New Mexican via AP

Carissa Pittman consoles her daughter, Emily, 15, while her husband, Pete, in the car and son, Allen, 21, prepare to leave Los Alamos, N.M., because of the wildfire on June 27. Thousands of residents calmly fled Monday from the mesa-top town that's home to the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory, ahead of an approaching wildfire.

Craig Fritz / Reuters

Flames from the Las Conchas fire burn in the hills above Los Alamos National Laboratory on June 27. The fast-moving wildfire raged on Monday near the edge of the nation's preeminent nuclear facility, Los Alamos National Laboratory, a vast complex that houses research laboratories and a plutonium facility. Authorities said there was little threat to sensitive areas of the 28,000-acre complex, where explosives are stored in underground concrete and steel bunkers.

Craig Fritz / AP

Gary Thayer takes out a cooler of food as he prepares to leave following the mandatory evacuation of Los Alamos, N.M., on June 27.

Craig Fritz / AP

The Morrison family, Dee, top left, Taylor, 4, right, Bob, and Jeni, center, pack up their belongings following a mandatory evacuation ordered for Los Alamos on June 27.

msnbc.com news services report from LOS ALAMOS, N.M.:

Firefighters struggled early Tuesday to hold back a fierce blaze roaring out of control at the edge of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a sprawling nuclear weapons complex that includes a plutonium facility.

Flames licked all day at the boundary of the laboratory site, home to the nation's largest supply of nuclear weapons, as fire crews scurried to douse spot fires carried onto the grounds by winds from the leading edge of the blaze.

The laboratory was shut down, and the adjacent town of Los Alamos, home to about 12,000 people, was placed under a mandatory evacuation earlier. Continue reading.

See more images in our slideshow: Wildfires char Southwest U.S.