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UPDATE: Wildfire threat to Emmis transmission site eases

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Firefighters are making progress on a major wildfire north of Los Angeles that is burning perilously close to Mount Wilson, home to transmission towers used by Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications Corp. and other broadcasters.

Firefighting officials told the Los Angeles Times this morning that they now believe Mount Wilson is out of immediate danger.

Emmis Chief Operating Officer Patrick Walsh said in an e-mail this morning that the company still is operating its main transmitter atop Mount Wilson. But it is prepared to switch to a backup at nearby Flint Peak if conditions worsen.

Emmis' KPWR-FM 105.9 transmits from Mount Wilson, as does KXOS-FM 93.9, an Emmis-operated station programmed by Grupo Radio Centro. Los Angeles Fire Department crews navigated the five-mile Mount Wilson Road yesterday to coat the transmitter buildings and tower bases with a flame-resistant gel, according to the Inside Radio trade publication.

Crews also set controlled backfires and dug fire lines along the 5,700-foot peak to limit the fire’s spread, the publication said. The U.S. Forest Service said Mount Wilson is strongly defended and appears to be in good shape.

Some fire crews could be released as the danger to foothill communities eases. However, thousands of homes are still considered threatened. The blaze in the Angeles National Forest has burned nearly 219 square miles. It grew by about 20 square miles overnight.

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