Bobcat Fire: Flames encroaching on Mount Wilson

"This is where astrophysics was invented. The first half of the 20th century was about Mount Wilson."

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Friday, September 18, 2020
Bobcat Fire endangering Mount Wilson
The Bobcat Fire is encroaching on Mount Wilson, home to many of the towers that broadcast TV and radio signals to the Los Angeles area.

MOUNT WILSON, Calif. (KABC) -- Flames from the Bobcat Fire were coming dangerously close to Mount Wilson and its famed observatory Thursday night.

The mountain is home to the Mount Wilson Observatory which played a key role in advancing 20th century astrophysics since it was founded in 1904. The mountain is also home to an estimated $1 billion worth of transmission towers, a key site for TV, radio and government agencies.

RELATED: Bobcat Fire crews race to protect Mount Wilson

The Bobcat Fire is within 500 feet of Mount Wilson, home to SoCal's TV towers and an observatory where 20th century astrophysics was pioneered.

Mount Wilson Institute employees already evacuated earlier this week, leaving dozens of firefighters on site to protect the landmark

Mount Wilson invested in a fire suppression system following the 2009 Station Fire, rebuilding a half-million-gallon water tank with 33 places for the remaining 12 engine companies to access water.

There are also new high-pressure fire hydrants.

Mount Wilson staff says they haven't slept in days watching the fire creep closer to the 5,700-foot-high peak.

"This is a world-significant institution in terms of its instruments, the telescopes, the people who work there, the scientific endeavor that was accomplished there," said Tom Meneghini, executive director of the Mount Wilson Institute.

"This is where astrophysics was invented. It was done on Mount Wilson. The first half of the 20th century was about Mount Wilson. It was the only place in the world where you could do that type of science."

AIR7 HD was overhead as flames from the Bobcat Fire approached dangerously close to Mount Wilson, home of a landmark observatory and key TV towers for Southern California.