Los Angeles Wildfire Links and Coverage


Just arrived at my house in Santa Barbara after a long drive down from Monterey. Most of the way I listened to live coverage of the Station Fire on KNX/1070, both through the car radio (KNX has a huge signal that covers the whole southwest at night) and online over my iPhone, which was plugged into the AUX input of the radio in my rented Ford Focus (not a bad car, by the way).

Here’s KNX’s latest story, with a map.

Here is a set of mashed-up fire maps I just created, courtesy of MODIS and the U.S. Forest Service and Google Earth.

On the Live Web

Lots of grist for (and from) the news mills there.

Among other directions, the fire is moving eastward across Mt. Wilson, which looms over Los Angeles from just north of Pasadena. Mt. Wilson is one among many points along the nearest ridge of the San Gabriel Mountains, most of which lie within the Angeles National Forest. Perhaps more significantly, it is the home to nearly all the transmitters of FM and TV stations serving the Los Angeles metro. Also Mt. Wilson Observatory.

Reports say that firefighters (two of which have died so far) are doing their best to protect the Mt. Wilson facilities, but I wonder how long they’ll stay before driving back down. The only road out to the north is the long and winding Angeles Crest Highway — which is closed and may already be burned — and Mt. Wilson Road itself, which goes west through areas colored in the map above. The LATimes says the firefighters will stay there “no matter what”.

I’ve been to Mt. Wilson a number of times, and have often shot it from the air as well. These now comprise “before” pictures of the mountain.

Here is a Bing “birds eye” view of one section of the top of Mt. Wilson. This shot shows the observatory.

This Google Map shows the parking area where I assume firefighting equipment can keep away from advancing fire.

For what little it’s worth, the five zillion channels I get on my Dish Network TV system have nothing I can find on the fire. The locals here in Santa Barbara are running network shows. CNN and HLN are covering two dead guys. CNN has Larry King interviewing Ted Kennedy, and HLN has junk news coverage of Michael Jackson’s creepy autopsy results. As a news environment, TV is a slo-mo suicide victim.

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  1. Beep’s avatar

    Hi Doc,

    Thanks for this post…great to see the observatory photos. The wildfires have seemed overwhelming in recent years. We are so sorry for the families of the firefighters who have died.


  2. Andrew Leyden’s avatar

    Is Mt. Wilson the ‘Rebel without a Cause’ observatory? The one where the knife fight was filmed in James Dean’s classic movie?

  3. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Thanks, Beep. Andrew, Griffith observatory, which is smack in the middle of Los Angeles, seems more likely to me.

    I just checked, and … Yes, it is.

    But Mt. Wilson is where Hubble discovered that the universe is expanding.

  4. Jim Posner’s avatar

    Doc-Your anecdote about the news helicopter offering useless commentary reminded me of the usefulness of augmented reality in those types of scenarios. Imagine if google maps could have been overlaid over the video being streamed to the news web site. That would have been useful.-Jim

  5. Thomas Attila Lewis’s avatar

    The Ford Focus will be the feature car on tonight’s “Top Gear” on BBC America.

  6. JohnO’s avatar

    The web cam at Mt. Wilson is still operating (as of 7:15 PM PDT Monday evening).


  7. hbsjcd3’s avatar

    It certainly looks the “rebel with a cause” tower, where James Dean got brave!

  8. Andrew Leyden’s avatar


    live tweets from the Mt. Wilson Astronomers.

  9. Andrew Leyden’s avatar

    Apparently there is another, ‘pro-sumer’ observatory that might not have survived. Built by a bunch of science geeks who just wanted to look at the stars, their decades old facility is likely lost (but no one knows just yet).


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