A ginormous amphibious air tanker called the Martin Mars just made a massive water drop over Mount Wilson, the hill northeast of Los Angeles where the century-old Mount Wilson Observatory and nearby TV, radio and cell phone towers are all located. The World War II-era flying boat literally water-bombed the peak today to douse flames from the Station Fire, which has burned 127,000 acres (the largest in LA County history).
Here's an LA Times pic of this bad boy in action over Mt. Wilson. Snip from the accompanying story:
Los Angeles County Fire Department Battalion Chief Steve Martin said, "We are going to burn, cut, foam and gel. And if that doesn't work, we're going to pray. This place is worth a lot, but it's not worth dying for. "
In a worst-case scenario, firefighters were expected to retreat to the safety of the observatory parking lot or seek refuge in the concrete and steel basement of the 105-year-old, 100-inch telescope observatory. A Martin Mars air tanker, also known as a Super Scooper, dropped 7,500 gallons of water on Mt. Wilson.
In previous BB posts about the LA fires, I mentioned these giant 747s that have also been spurting water from the sky, to extinguish the blaze. Wired has a nice photo gallery of those guys in action here. And Popular Science has some interior shots of the 747s. Spoiler: they are friggin huge inside.
The managers of the observatory are now very optimistic that the historic site will make it okay.
Below: Astronomer Mike Brown has been tweeting while the area around the Mt. Wilson Observatory burns, and he spotted the WWII flying boat in action.
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