Fire crews stood poised atop Mount Wilson on Tuesday, Sept. 15, strategizing in the shadow of billions of dollars worth of communications infrastructure and history-shaping telescopes. With the Bobcat fire’s various smoky layers dancing as close as 500 feet away, snaking upward toward the complex from various wooded routes, the team’s mission was simple: Protect the familiar towers of the Mount Wilson Observatory.
Already, a fiery tendril from the forest blaze crested a steep ridge around midday and wound toward an observation pathway facing east from the mountaintop. Black smoke poured out from the burning trees and flames climbed dozens of feet into the air. The wildfire sounded more like a waterfall, a din of cracking and popping.
That small, pesky fire, however, was the least of their concerns. It was just a finger off the mammoth blaze ascending from the base of the mountain.