THE CGC COMMUNICATOR
                            CGC #949
                  Wednesday, September 9, 2009
                Robert F. Gonsett, W6VR,  Editor
                <cgc (at) cgc333.connectnet.com>
    Copyright 2009, Communications General® Corporation (CGC)
  I just spoke with Benny -- he is the fire official in charge
of the broadcast side of Mt. Wilson.  Fire crews will be staying
on the mountain this evening as they want to get a very early
start on the burn-out operation tomorrow.
  Here are the details:
  (a)  Redbox Road will be HARD CLOSED AND LOCKED sometime
  after midnight tonight,
  (b)  you will not be able to drive into the back of the
  Observatory as that road will be closed as well,
  (c)  the big parking lot at Skyline Park is the safety area
  for us here on the mountain should anything jump lines or get
  out of control.  I have been assured we will be very safe as
  we will shelter in the parking lot, and
  (d)  three burns will be started.  The first burn will be hand
  ignited going east.  The second will be the north slope using
  a helitorch.  The final one will be on the east side of Redbox
  Road and will be ignited with ping pong balls.
  Again, I have been advised that we will all be safe and there
is no cause for concern.  Safety has been at the forefront of
this operational plan by fire experts.  I have fire-protective
gear.  After the burns are completed, broadcast engineers will
have better access to the hill.
  Keep in mind this very important point:  NO TRAFFIC WILL BE
ALLOWED ON THE ROADS before, during and for a few hours after
the burn operation.  The definition of "few" remains to be
determined, and Murphy lives, but at least there is an end
in sight.
  It was explained to me that this burn-out operation is being
done for addition protection against future fire events and the
Santa Ana Winds.  Without the burn, fire officials are concerned
that for a few weeks plus, we would have hot spots that could
quickly re-ignite and cause a catastrophe in a wind-driven event.
We don't need that.
  Dennis Doty, Mt. Wilson
  September 9, 2009,  4:19 PM PDST
  Wednesday, 9 Sep 09, 5:00 pm PDT - Not much more to report
as we prepare to leave Mount Wilson.  If all the stars align right,
the firing will begin at 9 am tomorrow.  Fred Thompson, Supervisor
of the Helenas, told me that the fire will be hand lit down the
steep fire break line and then lit by helitorch along the dozer
line.  Stay tuned to Towercam.  I regret that duty is calling me
back to Atlanta.
  Scott Lacy of Southern California Edison (SCE) reports
that a full damage assessment of the back power feed (33 kV)
to Mt. Wilson is yet to be made.  Not only has SCE had difficulty
accessing the burn area, but they are dealing with thousands of
burnt poles in other areas as well.  The rumor within SCE is that
the 33 kV line is "predominantly destroyed" - again, this is just
a rumor.
  Scott said it will probably take six months or longer to
repair the 33 kV line based on a "pure guess."  He anticipates
access and weather-related problems this winter including mud and
rock slides.  He does not know what priority will be given to
fixing the Wilson 33 kV feed.
  The front side (16 kV) power line is in good shape as far
as he knows.  That line of course uses steel power poles.  The
power bump Friday afternoon was traced to a bird that flew into
the Eaton substation near Pasadena High School.  Bird removed,
problem solved.
  Scott's edress:  scott.lacy (at) sce.com
  "Rumor has it that some engineers have been allowed past
road blocks and made it to the mountain."  This sentence from
Tony Neece's detailed and thoughtful letter in CGC #947 attracted
some comments from non-broadcasters today.
  It is worth noting that there were a few broadcast engineers
on Wilson this morning and CGC staff spoke with most of them.
They were performing a variety of important tasks, not the least
of which was manning the pumps and hookups to the large water
tanks on broadcast properties -- tanks that are being readied
to provide water for fire hoses.  There was a pressure problem
associated with one of the pumps this morning, for example, and
that issue needed immediate attention.   -Ed.
                       LETTER TO THE EDITOR
  Your reports have been extremely important and effective.
Thanks for keeping us informed.
  It has been proposed that the SBE help engineers develop
a "credentialing program" that will grant them access to disaster
areas to restore critical broadcast operations. The problem is
that a national credential probably won't get you past a state
or local police roadblock because the rules (and dangers) are
different in each situation.  A successful program will need
to be based in state or local government.
  To that end, the SBE hopes to build a strategy for chapters
and state associations to get programs going in their own areas.
We are in discussion with FEMA and other federal parties to
determine the best way to go about this.  This concept is really
in its infancy but we believe it will support the important
function of broadcast engineers in a way no one else really
  Your input is invited.  Discuss on the SBE Roundtable
www.sbe.org .
  Barry Thomas, CPBE CBNT
  Society of Broadcast Engineers, Inc.
  barryt (at) sbe.org
                            OFF TOPIC
  Take a scenic road trip with Mt. Wilson Observatory Director
Dr. Hal McAlister and his wife Susan on their recent drive up the
Angeles Crest Highway.  Incredible black-and-white scenery from
from a former lush forest.
  U-Tube video, 3 minutes:
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