The 105-year-old Mount Wilson Observatory, which today was called "the birthplace of the expanding Universe" by Discover Magazine online, seemed on the verge of destruction just three days ago, evacuated of all personnel on Monday and surrounded by 25 firefighters who then had to flee as flames edged toward the august facility.
Tuesday afternoon, a massive drop of fire retardant by a Super Scooper and tanker helicopters laid a protective moat around the threatened buildings as well as the major TV communications towers that serve Southern California. At the same time, gigantic earth-movers wiped out surrounded bushes and small trees -- the "fuel" that fed the Station Fire, the biggest ever in Los Angeles County.
abruptly stopped transmitting "possibly due to phone line damage from
backfires" purposely set to hold back the Station Fire. Then word came
Wednesday from Observatory Director Hal McAlister that the
firefighters' efforts had created "very good prospects" that the
observatory would be saved.
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it appears to have been saved. Californians breathed a sigh of relief
to hear word that the beautiful, and still very vital to science,
facility is intact and, we hope, may soon be seen through thinning
smoke. Here's an appreciation published in LA Weekly in 2002 that still holds true today.