A modified Martin Mars seaplane tanker aircraft drops water trying to contain a fire threat to a historic observatory on Mount Wilson northeast of Los Angeles on Tuesday, Sept. 01, 2009. Mount Wilson is home not only to the observatory but numerous television, radio and cell phone antennas serving the metropolitan area.
Damian Dovarganes/AP

From rural communities in Acton, the line of flames in the Station Fire spread south across 20 miles towards Pasadena threatening the iconic observatory on Mount Wilson, as well as numerous TV, radio and cell towers on the peak. The Southland’s protracted drought makes ideal weather conditions for wildfires to spread fast.

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Mushrooming clouds rise to sky as the Station Fire gradually marches west towards the communities of Acton Agua, Dulce, and Sunland Tujunga on August 31, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The 2009 California wildfires season amounted to about 9,160 blazes that burned some 405,500 acres. The Station Fire was the largest and deadliest of the season. Two firefighters died in the line of duty, and the 120 structures were destroyed. Southern California’s severe drought, hot weather and strong Santa Ana winds were contributing factors to the extreme fire conditions.