California Wildfires Threaten Broadcasting Towers

By Andrew Gauthier 


Wildfires continued to rage in Southern California this weekend, threatening the television transmission towers on the peak of Mt. Wilson, located about 12 miles to the northeast of Pasadena in the Angeles National Forest. The summit houses more than two dozen towers, which beam signals for television and FM radio throughout the region, as well as an historic solar observatory which houses multimillion-dollar astronomy projects for UCLA, USC, and UC Berkeley.

Governor Schwarzenegger declared the fire “totally out of control” at a press conference Sunday. The “Station Fire” has grown to 85,760 acres and is just 5% contained. Fire officials say full containment may not be reached until September 8. Eighteen structures have been destroyed, and 12,000 homes are still threatened by the growing blaze.


“We know there’s nothing we can do to stop the fire from reaching Mt. Wilson,” said County Fire Capt. Mark Savage. The fire was a mile and a half away from the broadcast facilities by 10:30 p.m. Sunday evening. L.A.’s recent heat wave and low humidity are encouraging the fire, which is moving through thick brush that hasn’t been burned in decades.

KCBS-TV Channel 2 and KABC-TV Channel 7 said that viewers with cable and satellite TV should not be affected if the transmitters are damaged, but that those without cable or satellite might lose their signal.