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Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

The Station Fire is near JPL and even closer to Mt. Wilson

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

29-08-2009 20:34 CDT

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It's fire season again in Los Angeles, and this year there is a major fire burning in the mountains north of the city of La Cañada Flintridge, home to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). So far, JPL itself is not under any immediate threat, though non-essential employees have been ordered to stay away from the lab through at least Sunday night. I'm sure there are many JPL employees whose homes are located in evacuation areas. Some Society employees may too -- I'm not actually sure. My home is in no danger.

More scary right now is the risk to the facilities on Mount Wilson, including the Mount Wilson Observatory and also a huge farm of towers for broadcast television and radio stations.

It has been maddeningly difficult to get updates on the current extent of the fires. Last year, local television stations did a good job of providing continuous updates both on screen and on their websites. This year few stations are preempting regular programming, and if they are, it's for the funeral of Ted Kennedy, not for any reporting on the fire.

Some Facebook friends have provided me with links to helpful, regularly updated websites, which I provide here in the hopes that it'll help some of you up in harm's way

Hal McAlister, Director of Mt. Wilson Observatory, is posting occasional updates on their website about the direct threat to Mt. Wilson. However, as of 4:48 the last two Observatory staff members on site, who had stayed to assist fire crews, were taking advantage of a brief respite in the danger to get escorted down from the mountain.Here is the Mt. Wilson Observatory tower Webcam.The City of La Cañada Flintridge is posting hourly updates on the fire to its website. The link takes you to the homepage; click on "Station Fire Update" under "Current News & Events" to get to those.

Community information, including evacuation sites and individual street closures is available on altadenablog.

Here is the incident web site from the U.S. Forest Service.Here's the "Altadena Weathercam," which is I think located at the home of JPL employee Bill Westphal.

The San Gabriel Valley Tribune is the local newspaper; they are posting occasional formal news stories on fire status.

Here's an interactive fire map provided by the Los Angeles Times.

Here's a dramatic picture from last night.

Fire in the San Gabriel Mountains behind JPL

Leticia Montanez

Fire in the San Gabriel Mountains behind JPL
On August 29, 2009, the massive Station Fire burned out of control in the mountains north of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, threatening Mount Wilson Observatory.

 
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