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A.M. Brief: Firefighters Battle to Keep Bobcat Fire From Mount Wilson Observatory

September 15, 2020 by Brian Champlin
Image from the Mount Wilson Observatory HPWREN camera

The Bobcat Fire is now dangerously close to the Mount Wilson Observatory, but firefighters worked through the night to ensure the cultural landmark survives unscathed. Also this morning: Sheriff Villanueva backs up his deputies on Josie Huang’s arrest, COVID-19 positivity is on the decline, and anti-maskers rant at a hamburger joint. This is your news brief.

Morning News Rundown

The Bobcat Fire has now consumed over 41,000 acres, and containment actually lowered overnight (from 6% to 3%) because of the rapid spread. Urgently, the fire now threatens the Mount Wilson Observatory. Firefighters worked overnight to defend the structure from encroaching flames, although the steep terrain makes battling the blaze a difficult task. At around 7:30 a.m. this morning, the Observatory tweeted out that the facility’s boundaries are still secure and there are 12 companies of fire professionals on hand to continue defending against the fire. [LAist]

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Good news on the coronavirus front. During the past week, the positivity rate of COVID-19 tests in California has been just 3.5%, which is half of what it was last month and the lowest rate since the state began reporting the data in March. Locally, Public Health has to-date identified 254,656 positive cases of COVID-19 in L.A. County and 6,231 deaths. [KTLA]

L.A. Sheriff Alex Villanueva doubled down on how his deputies handled the arrest of KPCC reporter Josie Huang. In an interview with the AP’s Stefanie Dazio, Villanueva accused Huang of crossing the line from “journalism to activism.” Villanueva also blasted elected officials, sports figures, and civic leaders¬†for “fanning the flames of hatred” while urging them to emphasize trust in the system and due process. [AP]

Workers at Burgers Never Say Die in Silver Lake are reporting “daily abuse” from anti-maskers, which spurred the restaurant to post a message to its Instagram account. Apparently, the “no mask, no service” requirement has prompted angry customers to use abusive language, utter slurs, and even throw a table. Yup… because wearing a mask is that hard. [LA Mag]

Public Service Reminder: There’s still time to fill out your 2020 census. (Go here, it takes like 5 minutes!) And if you’ve already filled out your census and you’re wondering about response rates, the U.S. Census Bureau actually updates the results each day and posts them to a digital map that is divided by census tract. [We Like L.A.]

Members of SAG-AFTRA must work at least 84 days or earn $18,040 over four quarters to be eligible for their union-based health coverage. However, with production slowing and acting gigs on a decline since the beginning of the pandemic, many guild members are finding themselves in danger of losing their benefits. [LAist]

Wildfires have rightfully dominated the news over the past several weeks, but it turns out that a different kind of blaze has been creeping up in 2020. According to a new analysis by Crosstown, L.A. has seen a record number of arsons year-to-date. Two possible causes: a dramatic spike in homelessness and a prolonged period of economic stress. [Crosstown LA]

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