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LA fire likely to pass across Mount Wilson

LA station fire continuing to spread, with passage across Mount Wilson "imminent" says Wilson Observatory Director Hal McAlister, quoting the U.S. Forest Service.

The wildfire ravaging Northern Los Angeles County is expected to pass across Mount Wilson, home to TV and radio towers and the famed Wilson Observatory.

Mount Wilson Observatory Director Hal McAlister said Monday in an ongoing blog that the U.S. Forest Service informed him that passage of the fire across Mount Wilson was imminent. The USFS also said firefighters would battle the blaze from the air rather than on the ground.

Firefighers have already been pulled from Red Box, a major staging area about five miles from the observatory.

In his blog late Monday, McAlister reported:

Monday, 31 Aug 09, 2:46 pm PDT - I just spoke with Sherry Roman, Public Affairs Officer of the Angeles National Forest. She could give no updates as to the status of the fire in the Mount Wilson vicinity except that the USFS still considers that passage of fire across Mount Wilson is imminent and will be fought aerially rather than with ground personnel. Once the fire is through the area, they can assess the damage by air after the event before they can send in ground personnel. She also confirmed that firefighters have been removed from Red Box.

This roller coaster has taken a dip downward.

McAlister's latest blog (which mistakenly lists the day as Monday rather than Tuesday):

Monday, 1 Sep 09, 7:15 am PDT - ...I do not at this point have any news - only what we can all deduce from Towercam and other sources. Towercam scenes continue to show thick smoke on the mountain with a concentration on the right side of the image implying activity on the mountain's north side. It clearly has not reached the mountain and, if advancing towards us, it is only doing so slowly.

McAlister also reported that one of the two power lines to the mountain was knocked out by the fire. But the towercam showing the latest images is still online for now, allowing the Mount Wilson staff to monitor the flames.

The latest news from CBS in Los Angeles reports that the Station fire is still only 5 percent contained, and officials don't expect full containment for another two weeks. At this point, the fire has destroyed 121,000 acres and 53 homes.

Wildfires have run rampant in California over the past week. In addition to the Station fire affecting Mount Wilson, seven other major fires are ablaze in the state, according to the Calfires site, including the 49 fire in Placer County, the Morris Incident in Los Angeles County, the Big Meadow fire in Mariposa County, the Gloria Incident in Monterey County, the Cottonwood fire in Riverside County, the Oak Glen III Fire in San Bernardino County, and the Red Rock Incident in Siskiyou County.

The wildfires have forced the governor's office to declare states of emergency in Placer County, Los Angeles County, Monterey County, and Mariposa County.

If the flames reach Mount Wilson, they could damage the site's communications towers, disrupting TV, radio, and cell phone reception in the area.