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On Mt. Wilson, 'right now the fire is boss'

August 31, 2009 | 12:28 pm

The job of saving the communications centers atop Mt. Wilson is now in the hands of pilots who are dropping flame retardant in the area.

Citing the danger from the approaching blaze, firefighters who have spent the last few days clearing brush moved off the mountain this morning.

Fire officials said the plan as of 11 a.m. called for allowing the fire to take its course through the complex. 

"Right now, the fire is boss," said Larry Peabody, division supervisor trainee for the U.S. Forest Service. "We're experiencing rates of spread of fire in excess of 15 miles per hour, flame lengths in excess of 100 feet, and very limited access to the fire." 

Peabody, standing at a staging area at Angeles Crest Highway and Mt. Wilson Road, nodded toward a plume of smoke rising several thousand feet in the air, about half a mile away.

"That right there is small potatoes compared to what we're seeing elsewhere up here," he said.

Peabody said that firefighters have been prepping the Mt. Wilson area for the chance of flames roaring through it.

Firefighters have spent two days cutting fire lines around the most vulnerable structures in the complex and cutting low-hanging tree limbs, Peabody said.

"If the fire should impact the complex, we will have to let it pass through and come back later," he said, adding that many of the structures in the Mt. Wilson complex are made of steel and concrete, built with fire protection in mind.

-- Louis Sahagun on Mt. Wilson

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