Brush fire burns 25 acres; prompts closure of Griffith Observatory

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Griffith Observatory will be closed Wednesday because of a fire in Griffith Park that burned 25 acres and was 90 percent contained.

According to a notice posted on the Observatory's website "The Observatory's grounds, roads, lots and trails and the areas around the Greek Theatre and Western Canyon will also be closed.'' It's unclear if the Observatory would reopen on Thursday.

The fire was first reported at 2:09 p.m. Tuesday, northwest of the observatory and was initially estimated at about two acres. By about 3:30 p.m., the progress of the blaze was halted, according to Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Erik Scott, who said a ``handful'' of vehicles were damaged or destroyed along Observatory Road.

As of about 8:15 p.m., the fire was 90 percent contained with 25 acres burned, Scott said.

Helicopters from the city and county fire departments made water drops as about 200 firefighters on the ground battled the flames, which burned amid light winds in "light, flashy fuels'' and were described by LAFD spokesman Brian Humphrey as topography-driven.

The observatory was evacuated, according to the city Department of Recreation and Parks. About 2,000 people were evacuated from the landmark and some were shuttled aboard buses to pick up their vehicles, Scott said.

Two firefighters were assessed for exertion-related complaints and one was taken to a hospital for further evaluation, Humphrey said.

A concert at the Greek Theatre by the electronic duo Sylvan Esso went on as planned.

Some crews were released three hours after the fire was reported and Scott said drones would be used to monitor hot spots and remote fire-affected areas.

From Phil Shuman:

As they say, it could've been worse. Much worse. A fast moving brush fire that broke out in early afternoon near the Griffith Observatory was contained to 25 acres due to the fast expert work of the LA Fire Department and the fact that winds were almost non existent.

''Hit it hard and hit it fast'' is the basic strategy and that's what fire firefighters did from the air and the ground. The tourists that were in the Observatory got a bit of a scare and a bit of a show, one woman from Texas had never been that close to a fire, a man from Portugal was terrified, a 5-year-old boy from the Temecula area said '' I thought it came from a volcano."

The Greek Theatre just below the Observatory is rocking as usual . Two firefighters were overcome by heat, one hospitalized, and five cars left behind as people fled were singed by flames. As we said.. it could've been... and as we've seen... it often is.. much worse.