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Wildfires

Cloud Lightning

Idaho, US: Lightning Sparks Off Wildfires Across Valley

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© KVTB
Firefighters say lightning is likely responsible for three grass fires early Saturday morning in the Boise area.

Crews responded to a fire off Highway 55 by the Shadow Valley Golf Course, a small grass fire near Broadway and Myrtle and a large fire near Gowen and Orchard.

It made for a busy morning for fire crews, which turned into a busy afternoon as crews continued to fight the fire off Highway 55.

Firefighters said it's just unfortunately that time of year when weather, heat, and fuels combine to create a demand on their resources.

"Last night was very busy when that lightning storm rolled in," said David Cooper, the Boise Fire Battalion Chief. "We had multiple grass fires going on."

Phoenix

Firefighters battle 26 wildfires in Russian Far East

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© RIA Novosti. Alexander Kryazhev
Firefighters battle 26 wildfires in Russian Far East
Firefighters have extinguished ten wildfires in the Russian Far East in the past twenty-four hours and are still battling 26 forest fires in the area, Russia's Emergencies Ministry said on Sunday.

"Satellite monitoring and aircraft surveillance have registered a total of 36 forest fires in the Far East on an area of over 5,700 hectares. Ten fires have been extinguished over the past twenty-four hours on an area of 228 hectares. Firefighters are currently battling 26 forest and tundra fires on an area of over 5,500 hectares," the ministry said.

Cloud Lightning

US: New Mexico Rains Douse Flames But Fuel Flood Fears

The monsoons arrived on schedule in northern New Mexico on Monday, bringing with them the promise of containing a monster wildfire that has broken records in the state.

But they also brought potential peril from flash floods, wind bursts and lightning, with possible flooding made worse by the ground-clearing fires.

"It's such a Catch-22 with the rains," said Arlene Perea, a fire information officer. "The rains are welcome, but we know there are some problems with it."

The National Weather Service on Monday put out a flash-flood watch for the fire area through at least Wednesday. Forecasters said showers and thunderstorms were expected, with hail, lightning and winds up to 45 miles per hour.

Phoenix

Political Bread and Circuses for the Masses While the World is Burning: Russia's Summer of Fire, Intrigue, Political Mystery

Is lightning striking twice in the same place? Kommersant has sounded the tocsin, warning that once again peat bogs around Moscow are burning: "According to the Ministry of Emergency Situations, on Sunday in the region around Moscow sixteen wildfires broke out simultaneously."

Authorities said that the fires have been extinguished, but Kommersant quoted Grigory Kuksin, of Greenpeace Russia, who refuted the good news. "In the Gus-Khrustalny district alone, five fires are burning," Kuksin said. "The situation in the region is bad. There aren't enough resources to put out fires or even contain them."

The bogs currently ablaze may prefigure a return of the catastrophic wildfires that last summer coincided with a record-shattering heat wave and raged for weeks, generating lethal smog that blanketed the capital, wrought billions of dollars worth of damage and, at least indirectly, caused tens of thousands of deaths.

Disaster may well hit again. Zhivoy Zhurnal published a photo of a grim poster of unknown provenance that has mysteriously been turning up in the capital's elevators. The poster states: "In accordance with predictions of an emergency in 2011, the threat of wildfires in the Moscow region continues."

Cloud Lightning

US: 'One Thing After Another': Floods Threaten Blaze-Ravaged New Mexico

The Las Conchas fire
© Roberto Rosales / Albuquerque Journal via AP
The Las Conchas fire near the town of Los Alamos, N.M. is still smoldering in the distance on Monday afternoon, July 4.
Santa Fe, New Mexico - As firefighters made progress saving Indian pueblo lands on the north end of New Mexico's largest wildfire, officials worried on Monday about a possible second punch from Mother Nature - flash floods.

The fast-burning Las Conchas fire exploded on the scene a week ago, triggering the temporary evacuation of the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory. It has since charred more than 123,500 acres, the biggest torching of the state's lands in history.

But forecasters say seasonal rains are finally showing up across the tinder-dry Southwest, moving toward New Mexico.

"We've gone straight from fire danger to flood danger, so it's one thing after another," said a frustrated Jason Lott, superintendent of the Bandelier National Monument, a revered ancestral home of New Mexico's pueblo Indian natives.

Bell

US: Crews Gain Fighting New Mexico Wildfire, Now Fear Floods

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© Reuters
Charred forest smolders from the Las Conchas Fire near Los Alamos, New Mexico.
Santa Fe - As firefighters made progress saving Indian pueblo lands on the north end of New Mexico's largest wildfire, officials worried on Monday about a possible second punch from Mother Nature -- flash floods.

The fast-burning Las Conchas fire exploded on the scene a week ago, triggering the temporary evacuation of the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory. It has since charred more than 123,500 acres, the biggest torching of the state's lands in history.

But forecasters say seasonal rains are finally showing up across the tinder-dry Southwest, moving toward New Mexico.

"We've gone straight from fire danger to flood danger, so it's one thing after another," said a frustrated Jason Lott, superintendent of the Bandelier National Monument, a revered ancestral home of New Mexico's pueblo Indian natives.

Lott said more than 50 percent of the park, which consists of a total of 33,750 acres, has already been scorched by the Las Conchas blaze, although the visitors center, historic lodge and the ancient Tyounyi Pueblo ruins have been spared.

Those same structures, however, may now be threatened by flash floods expected with the state's monsoon season.

"It could be tomorrow, or in a couple weeks," Lott said.

Extinguisher

Los Alamos Fire: More Firefighters Deploy in New Mexico, US

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© BBC
Officials from the Los Alamos National Laboratory say dangerous materials are safely stored

Hundreds more firefighters have been deployed to battle a wildfire near a top US nuclear weapons research lab in New Mexico amid concerns the blaze could reach radioactive waste.

Nearby residents have expressed concern about potential contamination if flames reach barrels stored outside.

But officials are confident the fire will not reach the drums and they say dangerous materials are safely stored.

The town outside Los Alamos National Laboratory was evacuated on Monday.

The laboratory has been closed since then and is not expected to open until Friday at the earliest, officials said.

The Las Conchas fire has now burned 110 sq miles (284.9 sq km), fuelled by dry timber and powered by strong winds. Smoke from the blaze can be seen as far away as Albuquerque 60 miles (100km) away.

Nuke

Los Alamos Fire: Environmental Protection Agency Testing for Radiation

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© Associated Press

The Las Conchas fire burns near the Los Alamos Laboratory in Los Alamos, N.M., Tuesday, June 28, 2011.
The wildfire that surrounds the nuclear lab in Los Alamos, N.M., has grown to at least 61,000 acres amid mounting concerns about what might be in the smoke that's visible from space.

Such fear has prompted fire crews to set their own fires along the perimeter of the lab. So far, the strategy is working. The first air samples show lots of smoke, but no signs of elevated radiation.

"Those results show that what we see in this fire is exactly what we see in any fire across New Mexico," said Charles McMillan, the lab's director.

Environmental officials aren't taking any chances. The Environmental Protection Agency is bringing in dozens of air monitors all around the state, along with a special airplane that takes instant radiation samples. So far, officials have not been able to find anything amiss.

"Our facilities and nuclear material are protected and safe," McMillan told ABC News.

Phoenix

US: Wildfire shuts Los Alamos lab, forces evacuations in New Mexico

wildfire
© AP/Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican
Smoke fills the sky from a wildfire in New Mexico about 12 miles southwest of Los Alamos, on June 26, 2011. A fast-moving wildfire has broken out in New Mexico and forced officials at the Los Alamos National Laboratory to close the site Monday as residents nearby evacuate their homes.
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 that sent up towering plumes of smoke, rained down ash and sparked a spot fire on lab property where scientists 50 years ago conducted underground tests of radioactive explosives.

Los Alamos National Laboratory officials said that the spot fire was soon contained and no contamination was released. They also assured that radioactive materials stored in various spots elsewhere on the sprawling lab were safe from flames.

The wildfire, which began Sunday, had destroyed 30 structures south and west of Los Alamos by early Monday and forced the closure of the lab while stirring memories of a devastating blaze in May 2000 that destroyed hundreds of homes and buildings.

"The hair on the back of your neck goes up," Los Alamos County fire chief Doug Tucker said of first seeing the fire in the Santa Fe National Forest on Sunday. "I saw that plume and I thought, 'Oh my God here we go again.'"

Phoenix

US: Wildfire threatens Los Alamos National-Security Research Facility

The Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico will be closed Monday as fire crews battle a wildfire raging nearby, a statement on the facility's website said.


"All laboratory facilities will be closed for all activities and nonessential employees are directed to remain off site," the statement said. "Employees are considered nonessential and should not report to work unless specifically directed by their line managers."

A spokesman for the New Mexico State Forestry Division, however, told CNN the order to evacuate Los Alamos was voluntary, and stressed that there is no immediate threat to the facility.