Wildfires set historic California observatory ablaze

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:


  • About 150 firefighters battled small fires that exploded around the Mount Wilson Observatory in Southern California on Monday.
  • According to the spokesman of the teams responding to the Bobcat Fire, adverse winds have fueled the fires that have reached 6,000 acres overnight.
  • According to the InciWeb, the fire has already burned down over 105,000 acres north of Los Angeles by Monday afternoon. 



Teams of firefighters were fighting small fires that erupted overnight around a historic observatory in Southern California on Monday as the state reached almost 4 million acres of burned land amid a historic wildfire season.

Larry Smith, the spokesman for the three strike teams of more than 150 firefighters tackling the Bobcat Fire, said adverse winds stirred up the blaze that came 500 feet within the Mount Wilson Observatory in the San Gabriel Mountains.

“Just when I thought the danger was over — it wasn’t,” said Mount Wilson Observatory’s executive director, Thomas Meneghini, on Monday.

Smith told the Los Angeles Times that although the observatory wasn’t threatened, firefighters have been facing difficulties trying to contain flare-ups that stretched to 6,000 acres overnight.

On Monday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office issued a new series of evacuation warnings where about 4,000 people are still under evacuation orders in the region.

The fire-reporting site InciWeb said that the fire which started on Sept. 6 was driven by extreme temperatures, changing winds and dry brush ruthlessly demolishing more than 105,000 acres north of Los Angeles by Monday afternoon. The blaze is now 15 percent contained.

In a letter released Friday, Sam Hale, chairman of Mount Wilson’s board of trustees, said despite some hot spots still burning around a containment area, the facility has already been rendered safe by the firefighters who used “strategic firing” or using backfires to block advancing flames, to protect the observatory. The observatory was founded in 1904 and houses some of the most important astronomical discoveries of the 20th century.

“We owe our very existence to the firefighters on the ground and the helicopter pilots. They are our heroes,” said Hale.

The Bobcat Fire is one of the 27 largest fires currently burning in California where 26 people have died and almost 3.6 million acres have been destroyed in just nearly 8,000 fires which is a major leap from last year when 157,000 acres had been razed in just over 5,000 fires.

Officials have pointed to climate change and a build-up of dried vegetation in the state’s forests as the cause of the spike. Of the 10 biggest wildfires in state history, five including the August Complex have exploded this year burning over 846,000 acres across two counties in the northwestern part of the state.

Source: NBC News

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