Raging wildfire menaces observatory, TV towers

LOS ANGELES (AP) - August 31, 2009 A wildfire pouring through the canyons in Southern California is within a half-mile of Mount Wilson, where a 105-year-old observatory used by astronomer Edwin Hubble helped unravel some mysteries of the universe.

Also dotting the 5,700-foot peak are communication towers. Virtually all of the Los Angeles TV stations broadcast from an "antenna farm" on the mountain. The city could lose nearly all over-the-air TV broadcasts to the fire. Viewers on satellite or cable wouldn't be affected.

Firefighters protecting Mount Wilson retreated yesterday, but they continue to dump fire retardant. They say little can be done to stop the advancing flames.

Los Angeles County fire Capt. Mark Whaling says, "Whether it runs up to Mount Wilson and does intensive burning or just burns slowly around Mount Wilson, that's up to the fire."

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