Mount Wilson Observatory safe from Los Angeles fires

(Reuters) - The Mount Wilson Observatory is no longer at risk in a wildfire burning in the mountains surrounding Los Angeles, a spokesperson for the United States Forest Service said Wednesday.

The observatory, built starting in 1904, is a beloved historical site for Californians and was a world-renowned astronomical facility performing pioneering research for much of the 20th century.

The Bobcat Fire, which has been burning the area surrounding Los Angeles since Sept. 6 as part of the worst fire season in California history, had threatened to incinerate it.

“I was telling people yesterday that the defense of the Mount Wilson observatory was taking on the feel of a mini-Alamo,” John Clearwater, public affairs officer for Angeles National Forest, told Reuters.

Twelve firefighting crews worked to protect the site, and planes flew within 500 feet of it to fight the blaze. “It would have been devastating if we had lost that observatory,” he said.

The overall threats from the Bobcat Fire remain significant. Its size increased to 44,393 acres overnight, Clearwater said. Containment stood at 3% and 1,158 people were currently fighting the fire.

The Forest Service expects the fires to intensify in the following days, he said.

(Reporting by Mimi Dwyer; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

09/16/2020 18:20

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