Hope Persists As Fire Nears Mt. Wilson Towers
August 31, 2009 at 5:30 PM (PT)
The raging Station Fire in the L.A. area is closing in on MT. WILSON from two directions -- and essentially the only things preventing the destruction of the broadcasting towers perched atop it are flame-retardant being dropped by aircraft and the fire crews' brush-clearing efforts. Yet one LA CO. FIRE DEPT. Inspector thinks that may be enough to spare the towers from the flames.
In an 11a update, the L.A. TIMES reports that fire crews believe "it's only a matter of time" before the flames reach MT. WILSON. "There is a good chance the fire will hit MT. WILSON TODAY," U.S. FOREST SERVICE spokesperson RAY DOMBROSKI said. "The fire is currently on two sides of MT. WILSON, about one-half mile to the north and about one mile southwest."
Crews clearing brush around the transmitter facilities and the MOUNT WILSON OBSERVATORY were evacuated when it became too dangerous to be near the communication towers and the observatory complex. Fixed-wing aircraft is continuing to drop fire retardant on the mountain. Two firefighters lost their lives SUNDAY when their vehicle fell over a cliff while they battled the flames in the area.
In a more recent TIMES update, L.A. COUNTY FIRE DEPT. Inspector EDWARD OSORIO seemed more upbeat about the MT WILSON towers, Although the consensus last night was that MT. WILSON was "doomed" last night, OSORIO noted that the airlifted fire-retardant drops and yesterday's aggressive brush clearance has made a notable difference.
"At this point, I don't think it suffered any serious damage," he told the TIMES. "We'll probably get some flare-ups or threatening flame activity, but we don't think it's going to be a major problem."
Station Towers In Jeopardy
While most of the area's TV stations have direct links to cable and satellite distribution to continue to serve subscribers in the region, the FM stations would mostly be forced to go off the air unless they have auxiliary facilities at other locations; some stations have auxiliary transmission facilities at FLINT PEAK, the former KLSX site, or at the KYSR site in the HOLLYWOOD HILLS (the "BRIARCREST" site), and CBS RADIO has auxiliary facilities at the site of Alternative KROQ in the VERDUGO HILLS above BURBANK. CLEAR CHANNEL also maintains a site at the former AM 1150 site in the MONTECITO HEIGHTS neighborhood north of downtown LOS ANGELES.
Among the stations located at the MOUNT WILSON facility are CLEAR CHANNEL Urban AC KHHT (HOT 92.3), AC KOST, Hot AC KBIG (MY 104.3 FM), and Top 40 KIIS; CBS RADIO Top 40 KAMP (AMP 97.1), Oldies KRTH (K-EARTH 101), Adult Hits KCBS-F (93.1 JACK FM), and Smooth Jazz KTWV (94.7 THE WAVE); BONNEVILLE AAA KSWD-F (THE SOUND); UNIVISION Spanish AC KLVE and Regional Mexican KSCA (LA NUEVA 101.9); EMMIS Top 40/Rhythmic KPWR (POWER 106); PACIFICA noncommercial KPFK; PASADENA CITY COLLEGE/SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA PUBLIC RADIO noncommercial KPCC; EMMIS/GLR Regional Mexican KXOS (EXITOS 93.9); MOUNT WILSON FM BROACASTERS Country KKGO (GO COUNTRY 105.1); SALEM Religion KKLA; and CITADEL Classic Rock KLOS.
CLEAR CHANNEL Pres./Market Mgr. GREG ASHLOCK tells ALL ACCESS that each of CLEAR CHANNEL's four towers on MT. WILSON (KIIS, KOST, MY and HOT) has operational back-ups ready, if necessary, for all four stations. KIIS and HOT are at BRIARCREST; KOST and MY are at MONTECITO HEIGHTS.
At BONNEVILLE AAA KSWD (THE SOUND), PD DAVE BEASING said, "We have an auxiliary transmitter in LAUREL CANYON and would switch to that."
A UNIVISION spokesperson released the following statement:
Our UNIVISION team in LOS ANGELES is working diligently to keep our audiences informed about the situation by using all of our platforms -- television, radio, online and mobile.
At this time, our stations in LOS ANGELES are still available over the air. However, recognizing that our signals may be impacted by the fires, we have taken a series of steps to ensure our audiences still have access to critical information:
* Our TV station signals for Univision 34 and TeleFutura 46 are available for cable, satellite and telecom subscribers and we are also available via TIME WARNER satellite link.
* We are offering live video streaming on www.univisionlosangeles.com for our LA audiences (not available outside DMA)
* We also are providing updates via cell phone, utilizing unimovil.
* We have been informing UNIVISION audiences via our local TV and radio stations how they can continue to get information in Spanish, primarily via the Internet and cell phones. KLVE 107.5 FM and KSCA 101.9 FM, which could be impacted by the fires, will be available online. Our other radio stations in the area, KRCD 103.9 FM / KRCV 98.3 FM and KTNQ-AM 1020, should not be impacted.
On the AM band, CLEAR CHANNEL Talk KFI-A dropped syndicated programming for extended fire coverage by morning host BILL HANDEL and afternoon hosts JOHN KOBYLT and KEN CHIAMPOU. CITADEL Talk KABC-A also dropped syndicated programming, with KEN LEVINE and PETER TILDEN in to anchor coverage. No AM stations have transmission facilities in the fire area.
ABC NEWS RADIO is offering status reports during PACIFIC Time afternoon drive on the Station Fire as well as the fires burning in Northern CALIFORNIA. BRAD WHEELIS will anchor the one-minute reports at 20 minutes past the hour between 5:20p and 11:20p ET with ALEX STONE in ACTON at the northern fringe of the Station Fire, BRIAN ROONEY in LA CRESCENTA (near the start of the Station Fire in LA CANADA-FLINTRIDGE), and LISA FLETCHER up north in AUBURN.
Two Firefighters Die
KNBC-TV reports two LOS ANGELES COUNTY firefighters were killed YESTERDAY (8/30) battling the wildfires, according to fire officials and the coroner's office.
The firefighters were killed about 2:30p when their vehicle rolled off the side of a road in the ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST, fire officials said.
Their names were not immediately released, although their families have been notified, said county fire spokesman MIKE BRYANT. The deaths occurred during "intense fire activity" near MOUNT GLEASON, he said.
All LOS ANGELES TV stations have coverage of the fires. Check them out online: