The 30-acre wildfire is believed to have started somewhere below the parking lot of the observatory, and poses a risk to hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of communication equipment nearby, ranging from emergency broadcast transmitters to commercial television facilities.
According to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, as of 11 a.m. the fire was 5 percent contained. By 3 p.m., the fire had crept closer, and is expected to reach the observatory’s facilities between 5 p.m. Tuesday and 2 a.m. Wednesday as preparations continue to minimize the potential damage.
Around 500 firefighters, a SuperScooper aircraft, and seven helicopters have been battling to keep the blaze from growing to an estimated maximum of 600 acres. In 2009, a wildfire tore through the same area and eventually spread across some 160,000 acres.
The Cosmic Cafe at Mount Wilson Observatory posted these photos on its FaceBook page Tuesday morning.
Though firefighters have not yet determined the cause of today’s fire, they believe that the terrain, not the wind, was responsible for its initial spread. According to Seneca Smith, PIO for Angeles National Forest, navigating the difficult mountainous terrain also complicated the firefight.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department has not received any reports of structural damage or injuries.