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LA Fires
If the reports of the sky being black with smoke over LA wasn't bad enough Phil Plait reports


that the fire is threatening both the historic Mount Wilson Observatory and the Jet Propulsion Labs.

Yes, I know it is worse that people have died and are being made homeless, but all the same...

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In fact, I'm awake here waiting for evacuating friends who live not far from JPL.

The whole Mount Wilson area is under heavy threat. There are some major communications systems through there, too. JPL is in a very, very precarious position where it is, balanced in a dry brush canyon area. The firefighters are having a hell of a time defending it. Thankfully, it has a first-rate fire defense system. As for MW observatory, visions of Stromlo are unfortunately flickering through my mind. :(

I can definitely bear witness to the black skies. It looks like the whole world is burning up from where we are.

Edited at 2009-08-31 06:02 am (UTC)

I thought you were far enough away to be safe (for the moment) and also that putting out an "Are you okay, Melody?" in the middle of the night might not be the most logical thing to do - if you were okay you probably wouldn't be awake to answer and if you weren't you probably couldn't answer anyway...

I'm glad you're safe, and hope your friends arrive safely and return to an intact home.

Thanks, hon, we're definitely safe. That's one nice thing about living in the desert -- no view but lots of kitty litter all around you. It's just the view that's scary.

It looks now like the fire has turned away for the moment from their home but they're not taking any chances and are just getting out for the time being.

Glad you and your friends seem to be safe for now - I hope it stays that way *crosses all available appendages*

I had a tour of WMO a bit over a year ago. The place is full of trees so is clearly vulnerable to this kind of thing.

The latest news is better than it was. You can follow reports here:


I've been keeping an uneasy eye on the news from Mount Wilson all weekend. I work with data from both the solar towers there, and know the scientists involved. The instruments are not exactly cutting edge but they're still producing valuable measurements, precisely because they've been observing the same thing in the same way for decades on end.

The latest news, from early this morning, doesn't look good, and the towercam is only rarely reachable -- which I hope just means it's been slashdotted by the LATimes mention yesterday.

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