Mount Wilson Observatory Evacuated as Bobcat Fire Nears

Inciweb Bobcat Fire

The Mount Wilson Observatory in California has been evacuated as the Bobcat Fire grows closer. The Bobcat Fire is currently nearly 5,000 acres in size. It started on September 6 and is already threatening the observatory.


The Observatory Was Evacuated on Monday Morning

On Monday morning, September 7, the Mount Wilson Observatory shared on its social media feeds that Cal Fire had ordered the staff to evacuate. In its Facebook post, the Observatory asked for donations and has raised $805 so far as of the time of publication.

The day before, the Observatory had shared a photo of the fire from its HPWREN camera.

The observatory shared a different video on Facebook the day before, writing: “Bobcat Fire as seen from Mt. Wilson Observatory HPWREN camera. This is the last complete video time lapse completed this evening. We are monitoring emergency radio frequencies in the event an evacuation is called. Good night and good luck.”

A couple of hours earlier they shared that the fire was “uncomfortably close.”

The skies were smoke-filled on Sunday.

Mount Wilson Observatory was the most famous observatory in the world during the first half of the 20th Century, according to the observatory’s webpage. It was known for having the biggest telescopes at the time and made many discoveries. The size of the Milky Way was measured for the first time here in World War I, and Edwin Hubble proved there in 1924 that the spiral nebulae were distant galaxies. The observatory was founded in 1904. Located in Los Angeles County, the observatory is located on Mount Wilson in the San Gabriel Mountains. Today it is home to the Snow Solar Telescope, the 60-foot Solar Tower, and the 150-foot Solar Tower, along with the CHARA array and other interferometers.


The Bobcat Fire Grew to Nearly 5,000 Acres in About a Day

The Bobcat Fire started September 6, northeast of Cogswell Reservoir in Los Angeles County, near San Gabriel Canyon, according to Cal Fire.

In an update from Inciweb on September 7, it was 4,871 acres and 0% contained. The cause is under investigation.

Here’s a map of the fire’s size and location. 

And another map of the rough location of the fire is from FireMappers below.

Inciweb noted about the fire on September 7:

The Bobcat Fire started on September 6th at 12:21. The fire is located near the Cogswell Dam and West Fork Day Use area. It is 4,871 acres burning in heavy fuels with a rapid rate of spread. The Angeles National Forest has sent a first and second alarm brush response. Los Angeles County Fire is assisting. There are 5 engines, 3 handcrews, 4 helicopters, 5 fixed-wing aircraft, and 2 water tenders working the Bobcat Fire. There are structures threatened.

Exceptionally warm temps to start the day across much of the area, especially in the foothills and lower mtns where lows never fell below the 90s. One site in the Santa Monica Mtns (SCE Encinal Canyon Rd) never even fell below 100! Morning soundings corroborate this warm layer, with the 12Z VBG sounding showing 96-97 deg in a layer between 1600-3200 ft, and LAX ACARS sounding at 13Z showing the temps at the top of the inversion of 102 deg at 2200 ft. LAX-DAG gradient at 15Z was -3.7 mb while the LAX-BFL gradient was -4.1 mb, with some gusty NE winds across the foothills and mtns this morning. 1000-500 mb thicknesses are projected to be 590-592 dm across the area this afternoon, which are probably some of the highest ever for the region. All parameters are in place for an epic heat event today across swrn CA, with many all-time high temps in jeopardy of being tied or broken. For example, the all-time hi of 115 deg at Paso Robles will almost certainly be broken, and the all-time hi of 119 deg at Woodland Hills may be tied or broken. Even closer to the coast at UCLA, with temps already up to 105 deg this morning, the all- time hi of 109 deg may be tied or broken. Overall, hi temps today will be in the 110-120 degree range for the valleys and lower mtns, and generally in the 100-110 deg range for the inland coastal areas. These expected highs are 15-30 deg above normal.

You can register for alerts about evacuation information in LA County on this page.

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