The dust has settled, somewhat, on the fires at Siding Spring Observatory.
The good news is that, based on a visible assessment by the local fire service, all of the telescopes have survived. Some support buildings, though, have not. The final score, report by Amanda Bauer, is:
• 3 buildings have been destroyed (The Lodge, a cottage and a storage building)
• 3 buildings have been badly damaged (The Visitors Centre and two sheds)
• 4 telescopes appear to have some smoke damage to their buildings
No people were hurt but there has been a large toll on the local anumal population, both wild and on farms. The local mayor, Peter Shinton, said he had found:
“kangaroos in piles in the middle of the road, where they’ve come down to the road and have just been baked alive because the fire was on both sides.”
A lot of clearing up and checking is still needed. While the telescope buildings have survived it is unclear what damage that smoke and heat may have caused inside them, but it is clear that the lessons from the devastation ten years ago at Mount Stromlo have been learnt, and effective precautions against bushfires had been taken.
Timelapse movies of the fire are available from a couple of the telescopes on site:
Amanda Bauer continues to be one of the best sources for news on the fire. If we link to her often enough maybe she’ll get to have a higher pageranking on google than her fictional namesake, Jack Bauer’s daughter.