Tuesday, September 1, 2009

More Fire Images (Updated)

I'm still watching the news about the fires still burning around the state, especially the huge fire in Southern California, the one named "Station Fire". One of the things I'm watching is it's approach to Mount Wilson and the century old observatory there. Mount Wilson also hosts the communication towers for most of the radio and television stations in the Los Angeles basin. I can remember visiting the observatory up on that peak years ago. It has always amazed me that an observatory so near to the smoggy LA basin could get clear views of space. I've felt the same about the Griffith Observatory... Anyway, a really good way to keep track of what is happening up on Mount Wilson is to check in with the web cam that sits on top of the Solar Tower.

Here's some screen captures from last night and this morning:


This one was taken a little while after sunset. I wish I had thought to capture one the sunset views. Maybe I'll try tonight.


This one was just before I went to bed last night...


And this one is from this morning... So far so good. The fire is close, and unfortunately it's getting closer. I just hope that the observatory survives. It's a piece of history and it's an important facility for the scientists who watch the skies.

Another image I want to share is one that I "borrowed" from twitter. A fellow posted a link to it and said that it was an image that had been uploaded to a local media site. I don't know which site, nor do I know who took it, but it's such a striking photo... When I first saw the image I almost thought it was a CGI (Computer Generated Image) or a painting... What do you think? CGI? Painting? Nope.. It's an honest to goodness photo... Kudos to the photographer, whoever you might be...



Just a little note here, I haven't stopped watching the news about crimes. Still watching things locally and still watching the national news. I've been keeping up on the Anthony's and what they're all up to, and I still have an alert in google for anything that Phil Spector and his wife do. And lately, I've been watching the news about Jaycee Dugard and her kidnappers, Phillip and Nancy Garrido. I don't know when I'll post about them, but I'm sure I will eventually.


Just a quick update about the link to the Mount Wilson Observatory web cam that's in the post above; Unfortunately the web server is down now. All the smoke that had been building up close to the web cam on the Solar Tower was from backfires set by firefighters trying to protect the main structures and communication towers. So far, so good. They are burning off the undergrowth and dead pine needles on the ground and keeping the flames out of the trees themselves.

Here are the last three entries from the blog (which is temporarily being hosted elsewhere), the second entry explains why the web cam is down:
1 Sep 09, 2:04 pm PDT - CHARA Site Manager Larry Webster, who left the mountain yesterday morning, has told me that what we see on the TV feeds is exactly what the fire fighters told him they would do to deplete flammables on the ground. Their plan, which they would have implemented earlier had they not been withdrawn, was to start these groundlevel fire and literally walk along with them to keep them controlled. This is why we see no flames. The fires will consume the accumulation of needles from the many pine and fir trees as well as other scrub growth that could flame up and ignite lower limbs that would them permit the blossoming of the entire tree into flames. All the smoke we see is entirely consistent with this procedure. Larry and Dave are both delighted to see what's going on, but I've got to say that seeing smoke next to those domes is very unsettling to me. Still, I know what the fire fighters are now doing is necessary to save the Observatory.

1 Sep 09, 2:15 pm PDT - The Mount Wilson webserver went down moments ago, most likely due to a backfire infiltration of a pull box containing telephone lines that bring us our T1 internet service. All future updates will be posted here.

- The Battalion fire chief on Mount Wilson has just called both Larry and Dave to ask how to turn off the fire alarm up there! His name is Cam Todd and he's a Cal Fire chief with crews from Calaveras County. These are the same fire crews who did such a fantastic job prepping the place over the weekend before they were withdrawn yesterday morning. Chief Todd confirmed that these are indeed backfires and he said his guys are doing a heck of a job and their efforts are going just great!


shari said...

May be a dumb question, but since I am here in Florida.....where are you located in relation to all these fires???? They look "hellish" and I am surprised anyone can even breathe in all that smoke. Your pix are amazing.

Anakerie said...

The images on this post are screen shots from the webcam on top of the Mount Wilson Observatory near Los Angeles. I'm in Northern California, just north of Sacramento. In other words, I'm not anywhere near this one. The air quality in the Los Angeles basin has been bad at times, but from looking at satellite photos of that area, it looks like the smoke has been blowing inland. A lot. I read an article the other day about how bad Denver's air was due to the fires in LA.