The following email was forwarded round by David Higgins from the Hunters Hill Observatory late on Sunday (19 Jan 2003). Apparently the fires that have essentially destroyed the observatory had already claimed 400 homes by this time.
Sadly I have just seen the arial pictures of Mt Stromlo observatory
and spoken with Vince Ford, an astronomer on Mt Stromlo and our
worst fears have been realised.
Laser ranger facility - gone
9" Oddie refractor - gone
26" Yale Columbia refractor - gone
50" Great Melbourne Telescope - gone
30" - might be ok?
18" Upsala dome (Canberra Astronomical Societies dome) - gone
74" - definitely damaged but true extent of damage unclear.
Original administration building including two small domes housing
old refractor and solar scope - gone
Workshops - gone
Main admin building - at least water damaged but may be worse!
A sad day for southern hemisphere astronomy.
Ironically the observatory had just hosted a party for fire-fighters a few days before the fire broke out.
Update 27/01/03: The 30'' and 74'' telescope were destroyed beyond repair as was the extensive Stromlo workshop where NIFS, the soon-to-be-delivered spectrograph for Gemini North, was entering final testing. The 1924 heritage building, accommodating the administration staff, the design office, and the library, was completely gutted. Only the visitor's centre, and the Woolley and Duffield buildings, which housed the academic staff and its computing resources, were spared. A total of 500 homes were destroyed and 4 people lost their lives (non of the them included observatory staff).