Major fire threatens historic observatory near LA

Smoke rises behind the Mount Wilson Observatory as the Bobcat Fire burns in the Angeles National Forest on September 14, 2020 near Pasadena, California
·2 min read

A major fire that has been raging outside Los Angeles for more than a week threatened to engulf a historic observatory and billion-dollar broadcast towers on Tuesday as firefighters struggled to contain the flames.

The so-called Bobcat fire was within 500 feet (150 meters) from the 116-year-old Mt. Wilson Observatory, fire officials said in a tweet, adding that crews were in place "ready to receive the fire."

Officials at the observatory said all personnel had been evacuated as the fire was "knocking on our door."

Firefighters battling the blaze had made slight headway in recent days in trying to control the flames that erupted September 6, but containment shrank from 6 percent to 3 percent Tuesday, according to the Angeles National Forest.

"They are in a firefight right now, because it is so close," LA County Fire Captain David Dantic told the Los Angeles Times, referring to crews positioned at Mt. Wilson.

He said the fire, located about 16 miles (25 kilometers) northeast of downtown Los Angeles, had grown to 40,000 acres (16,200 hectares).

"It's a bigger area now," Dantic said. "Before, we had 6 percent containment when it was about 30,000 acres, but now the fire has gotten bigger. It’s a bigger footprint. That’s why the containment is down."

KNX radio said the fire was also threatening broadcast towers in the area worth more than a billion dollars.

Many communities threatened by the flames have been ordered to stand ready to evacuate while some 80 historic cabins located within Los Angles Forest were feared destroyed, officials said.

The blaze is among 27 fires currently burning in the state that have killed more than 20 people since many of them erupted mid-August.

Other major blazes have also wreaked death and destruction in the neighboring state of Oregon and in Washington state, further to the north.

jz/bgs

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