Risk

8/31/2009
02:28 PM
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LA Fire Threatens Communications Towers

Cellular communications towers, as well as TV and radio broadcast towers atop Mount Wilson are at risk.

A wildfire raging in Southern California is reaching dangerously close to cell phone and broadcast towers used for commercial and emergency services on top of Mount Wilson.

Hundreds of firefighters are battling to hold back the Station Fire, which has been spreading throughout the San Gabriel Mountains in Northern Los Angeles County.

The fire started August 26 and has burned through more than 20,000 acres. As of Monday morning, the fire was only 5 percent contained and officials said it may not be fully contained for another eight days, the Reuters news agency reported.

"Firefighters are preparing to set more back fires below the broadcast towers, but otherwise things are calm on the mountain for the present," said Mount Wilson Observatory director Harold McAlister in his blog early Monday. "I remain optimistic for now."

The cellular communications towers, as well as TV and radio broadcast towers, provide service to the Los Angeles area. Mount Wilson rises to an altitude of 5,715 feet and, taken together, the various towers on it are called the Communications Facilities.

The observatory itself has carried out important astronomy projects for decades including some that helped support the "Big Bang" theory.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered a state of emergency on Friday for both the Los Angeles and Monterey Counties because of the spreading fires.

Several thousand homes have been threatened by the fires and two firefighters lost their lives over the weekend. Several areas have been the subject of mandatory evacuations and evacuation shelters have been set up.


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