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Wildfire hits Australian observatory
Posted: Mon, Jan 14, 2013, 6:39 AM ET (1139 GMT)
Siding Spring Observatory fire (NSWRFS) A massive wildfire swept through a major Australian astronomical observatory on Sunday, damaging some buildings but apparently sparing key telescopes there. The fast-moving fire hit the Siding Spring Observatory Sunday, part of a complex of fires in New South Wales, Australia that have broken out in extreme heat there. Authorities reported Monday that several buildings at the observatory, including lodges used by visiting astronomers and the visitors center, were destroyed. However, major telescopes there, including the 4-meter Anglo-Australian Telescope, appeared to have survived in good condition, although some instruments and equipment may be damaged. The observatory's staff was evacuated before the fires hit, and there were no injuries reported. The observatory will be closed for at least the next two weeks as damage there is evaluated. The fire hit almost exactly ten years after another wildfire destroyed Mount Stromlo Observatory in Australia.
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