Wildfire Creeps Closer to NASA Facility
This view of the Station wildfire in La Canada Flintridge was taken on Aug. 28 by astronomer Mike Brown from the library at Caltech. The images is looking northeast toward downtown Pasadena and JPL in the dip in the mountains.
Credit: Mike Brown

The wildfire raging in the forests near NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., intensified on Saturday, edging closer to the research facility.

The so-called Station fire is burning in the Angeles National Forest near homes on the northside of La Ca?ada Flintridge, according to news reports. The fire came within one quarter to one eighth of a mile of JPL, but does not pose any immediate danger, said NASA spokeswoman Jane Platt.

Astronomer Mike Brown of Caltech snapped a picture of the fire's smoke plume on Friday, from the 9th floor of the Caltech library, looking northeast towards downtown Pasadena and JPL. The picture was taken when the fire was still about 2 miles away from JPL.

JPL is closed to all but essential personnel right now. Whether it will remain closed on Monday has not yet been decided.

"JPL is continuing to monitor the fire and the air quality, and a decision will be made sometime after 2 pm today (PDT) on whether JPL will be open tomorrow," Platt told SPACE.com.

Asked whether the fires were affecting any current research or mission work, Platt replied, "I'm not aware of any effect on missions, including efforts to 'Free Spirit.' Keep in mind much of the fire activity took place over the weekend, when we normally have reduced staffing anyway."

The fire has affected JPL in one way though, through the employees who have had to evacuate their homes. As of late Saturday, 20 employees had had to evacuate, Platt said.