Firefighters describe epic battle to save Mt. Wilson Observatory from Bobcat Fire

Local news
L.A. County Fire Department Capt. Dave Gillotte and his team fought the Bobcat fire, which approached Mt. Wilson from three directions.(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

L.A. County Fire Department Capt. Dave Gillotte and his team fought the Bobcat fire, which approached Mt. Wilson from three directions.(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

It was a week into the Bobcat fire and 300-foot flames were lapping at the historic Mt. Wilson Observatory.

This was the moment firefighters and observatory officials had been fearing: the fire striking a direct blow to the complex. Glowing red embers chewed through brush and trees, and thick smoke billowed into dark skies typically reserved for stargazing.

“It was gaining a flame-front we couldn’t manage,” said Oscar Vargas, division chief for the Angeles National Forest. “One that could destroy the observatory.”

Vargas described an infernal scene of smoke and heat as he and more than 100 firefighters moved into position atop the hill to try to save the famed site.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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