Smoke blankets Southern California due to wildfires

Smoke loomed over Azusa on Wednesday as the Bobcat fire burned in the Angeles National Forest

Firefighters have prevented a California wildfire from damaging the historic Mount Wilson Observatory, which played a pivotal role in confirming in the early 20th century that galaxies exist outside the Milky Way and that the universe is expanding.

"As many of you may know, the Bobcat Fire is now threatening the Observatory", Sam Hale, chairman of the Mt. Wilson Institute board of trustees, wrote in a statement.

By Tuesday night, the Angeles National Forest praised the firefighters' work around the mountain.

"The air quality is very poor due to smoke from the Bobcat Fire in recent days", said Linwood Zhou, an Arcadia resident who lives near Santa Anita Ave.

In addition to Mt. Wilson Observatory, the area is the site of numerous government and private communications towers used for radio and television broadcasts, emergency alerts, and cell phone signals.

"It came down to an nearly mini-Alamo", Mr Clearwater told Reuters by phone, referring to the pivotal siege in the Texas revolution against Mexico in 1836.

No buildings were burned, Mr Clearwater said. "Much of the western side of the fire was entering an old burn scar as well, which reduces the rate of spread", firefighting officials said.

A smoke advisory is in effect Saturday in most of Los Angeles County and parts of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties due to the Bobcat Fire burning in the Angeles National Forest which had scorched 29,245 acres (118.4 square kilometers) with only 6 percent containment.

The cause of the Bobcat fire was under investigation.

On Tuesday, Southern California Edison notified state regulators that one of its high-voltage substations experienced a tripped circuit just minutes after smoke from the blaze was first observed near a large dam and reservoir.

The fire, which is burning near the confluence of the Boise, Sawtooth and Salmon-Challis national forests, is one of a handful now burning in Idaho.

The company added that it was submitting its report "in an abundance of caution" given the agency's "interest in retaining SCE facilities in connection with its investigation".

The blaze has reached over 41,000 acres and is only 3% contained as of Wednesday morning.

The most activity was in the north and south ends of the fire, the U.S. Forest Service said.

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