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CALIFORNIA | Griffith Park

Brush fire prompts evacuation of Los Angeles observatory

News Agency

Wednesday, July 11, 2018, 13:28 - The landmark Griffith Observatory, a popular tourist attraction in the hills overlooking Los Angeles, was evacuated in July 2018 due to a brush fire that scorched a nearby swath of the surrounding park, authorities said.

The blaze erupted shortly after 2 p.m. (2100 GMT) on July 10 and charred 10 acres of the slopes of Griffith Park at the edge of the observatory grounds before firefighters brought the flames under control about 90 minutes later, fire officials said. 

No injuries were reported from the fire, which followed a weekend heat wave that baked Los Angeles and much of Southern California.

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The fire in Griffith Park burned to within a quarter-mile of the observatory but never posed a direct threat to the building, which is situated on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood, according to city fire department spokesman Brian Humphrey.

It was the third time the observatory was evacuated in the past two months due to a fire, observatory museum guide Juan Gutierrez said.

The observatory, dedicated to astronomy for public viewing and education rather than research, was opened in 1935 and draws about 1.5 million visitors a year to Griffith Park, one of the largest municipal parks in the United States.

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Providing a real-life backdrop for various Hollywood movies ranging from "Rebel Without a Cause" to "La La Land," Griffith Park was the scene of a 1933 wildfire that killed 29 people, ranking as the single deadliest blaze on record in California.

The 4,300-acre park and observatory are both named for Griffith J. Griffith, an investor and developer who donated much of the land to the city of Los Angeles before he was tried, convicted and imprisoned for shooting his wife in the eye. Left blind and disfigured, she divorced him.

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