California Sun

Good morning. It's Thursday, Sept. 10.

Butte County wildfire kills three and reduces town to ashes.
Welcome news in the fight to contain the coronavirus.
And some favorite finds from California's photo archives.



Lake Oroville was surrounded by flames from the Bear fire on Wednesday.

Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Three people died and several others were injured as the Bear fire in Plumas National Forest exploded in size, propelled by powerful winds and dry vegetation. One of the victims was found in a car. “Somebody was just attempting to flee and it just didn’t work out,” a police officer said. Hundreds, if not thousands, of structures are thought to have been scorched by the fire. S.F. Chronicle | A.P. | Mercury News

Berry Creek, a rural community of about 1,200 people northeast of Oroville, was reduced to ashes. “I’ve only seen three homes left standing,” a photographer said. Sacramento Bee


In the Sierra National Forest, the Creek fire raced 15 miles in a day.

In Butte County, the Bear fire spread 25 miles in the same amount of time.

And along the Big Sur coast, the already massive Dolan fire doubled in size overnight.

Fire experts said they have been stunned by the incredible speed of blazes now barreling across California. “When you have a fire run 15 miles in one day, in one afternoon, there’s no model that can predict that,” one forester said. “The fires are behaving in such a way that we’ve not seen.” A.P.


The Bobcat fire sent smoke over the Angeles National Forest on Monday.

Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

California's wildfires by the numbers as of Wednesday:

28 — major wildfires burning across the state
64,000 — people forced to flee their homes
3,700 — structures destroyed in the last three weeks
2.5 million — acres burned this year (nearly 20 times what had burned by this time last year)

See live wildfire maps. 👉 L.A. Times | Cal Fire


Roughly 140 million trees died in California while in the grip of the drought that ended three years ago. Fire experts said that helps explain why the Creek fire spread with such ferocity in the Sierra National Forest. Other Sierra forests crammed with dead trees are similarly primed for monster blazes. “The scale of the problem is enormous,” a forester said. Sacramento Bee


A climate reporter checked in with former Gov. Jerry Brown: "He was all for the individual actions we all know we need to take — change the cars we drive, the foods we eat. But what he really felt we needed to do was harness our values, consolidate our pain into outward pressure and political power, not retreat into fantasy communes." ProPublica


San Francisco's Twin Peaks Wednesday morning.

Other wildfire developments:

Wednesday was the day that launched a thousand orange-sky photo galleries. The Verge, which flew a drone over San Francisco, had one of the best. Also, someone blended "Blade Runner" music and city views to brilliant effect. 👉 Reddit
One person has died and more than 150 homes have been destroyed in the massive Slater fire burning in Siskiyou County, officials said. Record-Searchlight | Siskiyou Daily News
All 18 national forests in California are now shut down. The Forest Service said the unprecedented move was necessary to protect the public and firefighters. Sacramento Bee | L.A. Times



Pink's Hot Dogs in Los Angeles reopened on Wednesday after being closed due to the pandemic.

AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

On Wednesday, California reported the smallest one-day increase in new coronavirus cases — 1,616 — in almost 4 months. The state's infection rate is now less than half what it was during the July surge. A few numbers from around the state:

Orange County has cut its case load from more than 1,000 per day in July to about 170.
In Los Angeles County, the seven-day average of new cases is about a quarter of what it was in July.
The Bay Area has reduced its new case totals by about 30% from their peak. Mercury News | Sacramento Bee

Around 1 a.m. on Aug. 21, a police officer questioned a Black man about why he was inside a Marin County clothing store. The man was the owner, working late to restock shelves. The interaction, shared widely on social media, led to accusations of racial profiling, a heated community meeting, and the retirement of the police sergeant in the video. Now, the police chief is stepping down. A.P. | Marin Independent Journal

Video of the encounter. 👉 @yemacalif


Protesters used umbrellas as shields in a standoff with sheriff's deputies in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Demonstrations over the Aug. 31 killing of Dijon Kizzee by L.A. County sheriff’s deputies have grown increasingly volatile. Deputies have fired projectiles and tear gas at crowds. On Tuesday, 17 protesters were arrested outside the South Los Angeles Sheriff’s Station for failing to disperse. Officials said they recovered knives, poles, and fireworks. L.A. Daily News | L.A. Times


Los Angeles's homeless housing now costs more than some luxury condos. According to the city controller, the average cost of building a single unit of housing for the homeless in Los Angeles has risen to $531,000. Two projects soared to nearly $750,0000 per unit. The controller blamed red tape. NBC Los Angeles | L.A. Times


Someone watching a web cam at a San Diego beach noticed that two scruffy-looking guys showed up every morning to pick up litter. A reporter went to investigate and met David Hendon and Marc Gervais, two homeless men who have been cleaning the beach every day for four years out of the kindness of their hearts. "We're homeless, not moral-less," Gervais explained. A GoFundMe set up for the men has collected more than $25,000. CBS8


Old school California


Pictured below are some favorite finds from California's photo archives, part of an occasional series of posts showcasing the way we were. (See past entries: Unsung women, before they were famous, and style trailblazers).

Today's theme: Vendors of yore.

Gus Thornrose offered his photo services at Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park, circa 1940s.

A hat seller on Olvera Street, the heart of Mexican Los Angeles, circa 1935.

Vendors of "Hunter's Texas Tamales" in Los Angeles, circa 1897.

A balloon seller worked the Rose Parade route in Pasadena, 1928.

A fish dealer's daughter in San Francisco's Chinatown, circa 1896 to 1906.



Wednesday's newsletter included an item on wind forecasts that mistakenly linked to an L.A. Times article from 2019. It also gave an incorrect forecast. Santa Ana winds were expected to whip Southern California on Tuesday and Wednesday, not Thursday and Friday.

Thanks for reading!

The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.

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