IT at Los Alamos Labs Survives Fires Unscathed

U.S. government sources are saying that firewalls have successfully protected the information systems at the Los Alamos National Laboratory - the concrete kind of firewall, that is.

At least 260 homes were destroyed this week as a result of a raging brush fire in the town of Los Alamos and neighboring White Rock.

But the IS department at the Los Alamos National Labs, which is housed in fire-retardant buildings coated with a substance called Halon, was not harmed, according to Nick Apodaca, technical master at LANL.

"We're not surrounded by a lot of trees so it would have had to be blowing," he said.

Even then the Halon would probably have protected the building, he said.

Lab staff had been evacuated, but are back on site today, he said. The fire has moved nearly 30 miles away from the lab, Apodaca said.

Los Alamos County officials said the lab "received heavy and sustained fire pressure throughout the day (Thursday)... and some of the technical facilities have been destroyed."

IS and the nuclear facilities are unharmed, however.

Sensitive areas, like those containing nuclear materials, are housed in concrete kivas, which are designed to withstand fires and other disasters.

LANL took air samples there and sent them to Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, California, for further testing of radioactivity. Preliminary tests show only background levels of radiation, according to the LANL online update, indicating that there was no release of radiation during the fire.