Bobcat Fire in California comes dangerously close to Mount Wilson Observatory

Katie Ramirez
September 19, 2020

Firefighters battling the blaze had made slight headway in recent days in trying to control the flames that erupted Sept 6, but containment shrank from six per cent to three per cent Tuesday, according to the Angeles National Forest. Evacuation orders for portions of Arcadia and Sierra Madre were lifted Wednesday, although residents are being urged to stay vigilant and alert should fire conditions change.

The overall threats from the Bobcat Fire remain significant.

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 cause is under investigation.

Officials at the observatory said in a tweet late Monday that all personnel had been evacuated as the fire was "knocking on our door".

The Red Cross has established a temporary evaction point at Palmdale High School, 2137 East Avenue R. Accomodations for 300 large animals are available at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds, 2551 W. Avenue H, Lancaster.

Officials from Angeles National Forest said the Bobcat Fire came within 500 feet of the famed Mount Wilson Observatory in California, which played a pivotal role in early 20th-century astronomy.

The Bobcat fire, along with the El Dorado fire in San Bernardino and a slew of fires in Central and Northern California, Oregon and Washington, is also contributing to awful air quality in Southern California.

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The South Coast Air Quality Management District extended a smoke advisory through Friday afternoon as unhealthy air continues to blanket much of the L.A. Basin and Inland Empire.

Dramatic time-lapse photos taken from the observatory showed the fire glowing orange south and east of Mount Wilson early Wednesday morning. They include the 100 inch Hooker telescope that Edwin Hubble used in the 1920s to prove that our universe is still expanding.

"Although we have received some moisture, there is still fire danger in western Colorado", Scott Fitzwilliams, White River National Forest supervisor, said in a news release.

Los Angeles County Fire Capt. David Dantic said the fire was approaching residences in Juniper Hills and that at least 12 air tankers had been requested for immediate structure protection.

The fire also threatens a seismic station that has recorded quake activity for 100 years, seismologist Lucy Jones said via Twitter.

Ryan Fonseca is gathering updates on the fire.

"An increase in resources is allowing us to expand our efforts to reduce the fire's growth". Sometimes, however, we make mistakes and/or initial reports turn out to be wrong.

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