Fire-proofing saves Australian telescopes
SYDNEY (AFP) - Smoke damaged some buildings housing telescopes at Australia's top astronomy research observatory, but fire-proofing work prevented "catastrophic" damage from a weekend inferno, officials said on Tuesday.
The mountaintop Siding Spring Observatory, about 500 km northwest of Sydney, was engulfed by flames during the firestorm on Sunday evening which razed 33 nearby homes and some of the facility's outer buildings.
Eighteen staff working at the Aus$100 million (S$129 million) observatory - which houses 10 telescopes run by Australian, Polish, British, South Korean and US researchers - were safely evacuated before the fire struck.
The Australian National University, which administers the observatory in the remote Warrumbungle Ranges, said it had confirmed on Tuesday that three buildings - two lodgings and a storage unit - had been destroyed by the fire.