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Firefighters battle flames on Mt. Wilson

September 1, 2009 |  2:09 pm

Firefighters are setting backfires on the drought-stricken north side of Mt. Wilson to reduce the risk of flames and protect the observatory and communications towers atop the 5,700-foot peak.

Earlier today, wind-fueled flames were beginning to move up the very flank now being back-burned.

"Their goal is to blacken the edges and reduce the chances that fire will rush the facilities. They are also increasing their defensible space," said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Ray Dombroski.

It was with this sense of urgency that firefighters, who were ordered off Mt. Wilson Monday morning, returned today with picks, shovels and chainsaws to create fire lines and burn away the brush.

As four truckloads of firefighter hand crews drove up, gusts of wind blew and large rocks began tumbling down the burned mountainside onto the five-mile road leading to the top. The firefighters pressed ahead.

-- Louis Sahagun on Mt. Wilson