Telescopes at a global astronomy research hub appear to have survived a devastating Australian bushfire that destroyed nearby homes and damaged several buildings on the site, officials said Monday.
The fire, which raged through the night fueled by hot, strong winds, damaged parts of the Aus$100 million (US$105 million) Siding Spring Observatory some 500 kilometers (330 miles) northwest of Sydney, officials said.
But the New South Wales Rural Fire Service said that although 15 homes were destroyed, aerial surveillance had established that the main Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) "has survived, although it is not known if it has been damaged".
Eighteen staff working at the observatory, which houses 10 operating telescopes run by Australian, Polish, British, South Korean and American researchers, were safely evacuated before the fire struck.
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Monitoring instruments at the main telescope showed temperatures surging above 100 degrees Celsius (212 Fahrenheit) at the height of the danger.