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Essential California: Death toll climbs to 17 as California fires continue to rage

The death toll from the Northern California fires has reached 17. A wounded Mandalay Bay security guard warned hotel officials about a gunman before the Las Vegas massacre. Harvey Weinstein is facing more sexual assault and harassment allegations. The FBI’s investigation into bribery and corruption in college basketball continues to expand.

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It's Wednesday, Oct. 11, and here's what's happening across California:



The fires keep on burning

At least 17 people have died in Northern California fires that continue to ravage multiple counties, while the Anaheim Hills fire in Southern California has scorched around 7,500 acres. At least 2,000 structures have been destroyed in more than 15 Northern California fires, covering collectively more than 115,000 acres.

Here's what we know:

— There's death and devastation in Santa Rosa after this historic wildfire. Los Angeles Times

— In Orange County, as fire closed in on their homes, neighbors turned to God and each other for support. Los Angeles Times

Damaged cell towers created communication problems in the Northern California fire zone. Los Angeles Times

— The Northern California wildfires this week have destroyed at least seven marijuana farms just months before the state begins licensing legal sales of cannabis, making it the "worst year on record" for loss of crops. Los Angeles Times

— One climatologist explains why "the conditions are primed for fire" in California. Los Angeles Times

What happens now?

As the public face and pugnacious spirit behind his company, Harvey Weinstein made himself synonymous with a kind of prestige cinema that was designed to attract discerning audiences and scoop up Oscars by the armful. The question now is can the company that has borne his name survive now that he's been fired? Los Angeles Times

The latest accusations: Oscar winners Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie say that they too faced sexual harassment by Weinstein. New York Times

Plus: Those stories came just as the New Yorker published a report on Tuesday detailing more victims' stories, some of which included allegations of rape. The New Yorker

And: The USC School of Cinematic Arts said it is rejecting a $5-million pledge Weinstein had made to fund a program for female filmmakers. Los Angeles Times

​​​​​​​A new disclosure out of Vegas


Before the Las Vegas massacre began, a wounded Mandalay Bay hotel security guard called hotel officials to warn them about a gunman on the 32nd floor, an investigator told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday. But police did not arrive at the room where the guard had been shot until after Stephen Paddock had finished a 10-minute shooting rampage on a crowd gathered below for a country music festival, the investigation now shows. Los Angeles Times


An investigation continues: The wide-ranging investigation into corruption in college basketball continues to expand two weeks after federal prosecutors in New York charged 10 men on Sept. 26 — including USC associate head coach Tony Bland and assistants at three other schools. Two people involved in the case, who spoke on the condition they not be identified because of the ongoing legal proceedings, said they expect more college coaches and others involved with grassroots basketball programs to be charged later this month. Los Angeles Times

Dodgers baseball! At just 22 years old, Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger is giving the team a lift with his bat and glove. Los Angeles Times

Eric 2020? Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti made clear from the outset of his appearance at the Sacramento Press Club on Tuesday that he would not be offering definitive pronouncements on his future. But his remarks did little to dampen what has become a rowdy parlor game among California politicos: speculating on just what Garcetti will do next. Los Angeles Times


Major water development: Southern California's largest water agency Tuesday threw a lifeline to the proposed Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta tunnels known as California WaterFix, approving a $4.3-billion buy-in to the water delivery project. Los Angeles Times

Doctors needed: By 2025, California will be short about 4,700 primary-care physicians, according to a recent report from the UC San Francisco Healthforce Center. This will result in more people turning to costly emergency-room visits for routine care, it predicts. Los Angeles Times

The revolution on the left: "In California, a lodestar for the left in the era of President Donald Trump, the Democratic establishment is besieged and fighting to hang on." Politico



Big award given: For fighting cybercrime and boosting internet security, UC San Diego's Stefan Savage has won a MacArthur award. Los Angeles Times

Court decision: Counties may restrict the location of gun stores as long as residents have the ability to purchase firearms, a federal appeals court decided Tuesday. Los Angeles Times

Police shooting: A jury has found that a man fatally shot by an Antioch police officer in June was killed accidentally. East Bay Times


It's a border fight: The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to join the growing legal campaign to force the federal government to do more to stop sewage from spilling over the border from Tijuana and routinely fouling beaches. San Diego Union-Tribune


Cool dorm: There's a UCLA dorm floor dedicated to first-generation students, who make up 32% of undergraduates — a strikingly high number for an elite university. Los Angeles Times

Major victory: The winner of the 44th World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off was the heaviest pumpkin recorded in the history of the Northern California competition. Associated Press

Click! Here's a neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide to all that makes L.A. great. LA Weekly

Picture-perfect: Check out these photos of the Blue Angels soaring across the sky during San Francisco's Fleet Week. Curbed SF


Los Angeles area: sunny, 78, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 75, Thursday. San Diego: sunny, 73, Wednesday; sunny, 72, Thursday. San Francisco area: sunny, 68, Wednesday; sunny, 66, Thursday. Sacramento: partly cloudy, 75, Thursday; sunny, 74, Thursday. More weather is here.


Today's California memory comes from Tina Andes:

"My father owned a store in the beachfront town of Capitola. Some of the greatest joys of my childhood were going to Capitola and playing at the local arcade or swimming in the surf early in the morning. I also remember hiking up the hill from Capitola and watching the White Front store being built. Little did we realize that our store would be wiped out by competition with one of the first big-box-type stores, White Front."

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. Send us an email to let us know what you love or fondly remember about our state. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Benjamin Oreskes and Shelby Grad. Also follow them on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.