Major fire threatens historic observatory near Los Angeles

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A tree casts embers as the North Complex Fire burns in Plumas National Forest, Calif., on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020.

Evacuation warnings were in effect for the foothill communities of Pasadena, Altadena, Monrovia, Bradbury, Sierra Madre and Duarte, and for residents north of Foothill Boulevard and east of Santa Anita Avenue.

The east side of the fire remained quiet.

The blaze, dubbed Bobcat Fire, is within 500 feet (152.4 meters) of the observatory and crews are in place ready to receive the fire, said Angeles National Forest officials in a tweet Tuesday noon, adding that strategic firing is taking place in the south where air operations are strengthening dozerlines. The cause of the blaze remained under investigation, according to FOX11.

The fire near the observatory was also threatening to destroy nearby broadcast towers that were valued around $1 billion.

But the blaze was still only at 3% containment and behaving erratically, fire officials say, and authorities have ordered evacuations in the area.

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.

In California, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) said on Wednesday that 17,000 firefighters were still battling 25 major fires, and the state's death toll stood at 25.

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Firefighters were successfully able to steer the flames away from the historic Mount Wilson Observatory in northeast Los Angeles by using controlled burning.

Smoke advisories were extended through Thursday - the 11th straight day for such air quality alerts - and forecasts for the area range from "unhealthy" to "very unhealthy", according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

The Mt. Wilson Observatory houses 18 telescopes, many of which were used to make some of the greatest astronomical discoveries of the last century.

The observatory tweeted Tuesday morning that its boundaries were "still secure at this time" and they have 12 companies of professionals from the Los Angeles County Fire Department to provide assistance.

The observatory is where astronomers confirmed that galaxies exist outside the Milky Way and that the universe is expanding. "Our two big telescopes are historically significant and irreplaceable", Meneghini said.

Ryan Fonseca is gathering updates on the fire.

Officials consider several criteria when determining which restrictions to put in place, including current and anticipated fire danger, resource availability and consistency with neighboring jurisdictions, according to the Forest Service.

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