Newsletter: Weather likely to worsen fires

Cars drive through smoke that blankets the Dwight D. Eisenhower Highway as firefighters battle blazes in Vacaville, Calif.
Cars drive through smoke that blankets the Dwight D. Eisenhower Highway as firefighters battle blazes along Lyon Road during the Hennessy Fire, which is part of the LNU Lightning Complex fire in Vacaville, Calif.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Aug. 24, and here’s a quick look at the week ahead:

The Republican National Convention begins Monday in Charlotte, N,C. President Trump is expected to speak in some capacity during each of the four nights.

The full speaker list released Sunday was relatively light on Californians, but I did spot at least three: senior campaign advisor Kimberly Guilfoyle (Gov. Newsom’s ex-wife and the former first lady of San Francisco), Tiffany Trump (the president’s youngest daughter, who was raised in L.A. by her mother) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield). Guilfoyle will speak Monday, Tiffany Trump will speak Tuesday, and McCarthy will speak on Thursday.

And in the nation’s Capitol, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy will testify before the House Oversight Committee on Monday in what is likely to be a contentious hearing.

Also Monday: Aug. 24 is officially “Kobe Bryant Day” in Los Angeles. The date commemorates the two jersey numbers — 8 and 24 — that the late basketball star wore during his 20-year career with the Lakers. Expect fanfare and tributes around L.A.


Entrance to all National Parks will be free on Tuesday in honor of the National Park Service’s 104th birthday. (But check their website before you go, as fires and the pandemic may affect park services.)

The Los Angeles Zoo is set to reopen on Wednesday.

On Friday, thousands of Black activists from across the U.S. will hold the Movement for Black Lives 2020 Black National Convention, a virtual convention to produce a new political agenda that seeks to build on the power of the protests that followed George Floyd’s death.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

The second- and third-largest fires in California history are expected to grow in the next few days as a new thunderstorm system moves over the state, producing dry lightning and gusty winds. The entire Bay Area and Central Coast will remain under a red flag warning until 5 p.m. Monday, with the National Weather Service warning that the limited moisture “will likely not be able to keep up with the multiple lightning strikes.” The storms could spark more blazes and cause existing ones to spread rapidly, and that is unwelcome news for firefighters, who are already stretched thin. Los Angeles Times

As of Sunday night, the LNU Lightning Complex fire in the North Bay was 347,630 acres and 21% contained and the sprawling SCU Lightning Complex fire was 343,965 acres and 10% contained.


What else to know about the fires:

  • More than 1.2 million acres have burned in the state in the last month — an astonishing toll so early in fire season. (For reference, more than 259,000 acres burned in all of 2019, though it’s important to note when comparing that 2019 was a relatively slow fire year.) And more than a million acres have burned since Aug. 15, which marked the start of a “lightning siege” during which 12,000 strikes started 585 new wildland fires. Los Angeles Times
  • How dry lightning has sparked some of California’s biggest infernos in the past, from the “siege of ‘87” to the fires of 1999 and 2008. Los Angeles Times

Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.


The Chicano Moratorium, 50 years later: On Aug. 29, 1970, demonstrators marched through East Los Angeles in what was billed as the National Chicano Moratorium Against the Vietnam War. The events and emotions of that chaotic day still reverberate in L.A.’s Latino community. Los Angeles Times

An animation shows newspaper headlines, protestors, Ruben Salazar and Brown Berets
An animated GIF graphic to mark a series of Times reports on the 50th anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium, which took place in East Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 1970.
(Martina Ibáñez-Baldor)

The ultimate guide to classic movies playing at L.A. drive-ins, pop-ups and rooftops. One has to respect a list that includes “Citizen Kane” and “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” Los Angeles Times

Support our journalism

Subscribe to the Los Angeles Times.


President Trump on Sunday touted a “very historic breakthrough” in treating the coronavirus, announcing that the government had authorized the emergency use of blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to combat the disease. But scientists said the therapeutic benefits of the treatment, which has already been used on some 70,000 patients, were not yet fully understood, and some public health experts questioned whether political considerations had colored the decision-making process. Los Angeles Times


The ACLU has stepped into the controversy surrounding the Fresno Housing Authority’s plans to edit the minutes of a summer board meeting. The board has come under fire for wanting to delete selected comments from its written public record that have been described as “less than flattering” and “personal in nature.” Some of those unflattering comments were made by community groups scrutinizing a contract between the housing authority and local police department. Fresno Bee


A fire commander’s wallet was stolen and his bank account drained while he battled blazes. “It’s unfortunate and sickening,” Cal Fire Battalion Chief Mark Brunton said during a briefing early Sunday morning. East Bay Times


Orange County has been removed from the state coronavirus watch list. As our Sacramento bureau chief John Myers tweeted, “With still no clear guidance from Newsom administration as to how new re-opening will work, there’s [a] chance for some real tension with O.C. leaders in the days to come.” Orange County Register


California’s job growth slowed dramatically in July. August will probably be worse. Los Angeles Times

With less money and more risk, waves of California child-care providers are calling it quits: More than 1,200 of the closings are permanent, eliminating roughly 19,000 child-care spots, the state figures show. There is no way to know how many of the thousands of others that have shut their doors during the pandemic will eventually reopen or when, leaving the full effect of pandemic on child care uncertain. Los Angeles Times

For Bakersfield’s campesinos, radio host Pepe Reyes’ golden voice has been an invaluable resource: “A lot of our listeners work the fields and they rely on us for important information and for entertainment while they work.” LAist


Golden State Warriors President Rick Welts has publicly apologized to Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri for the incident that occurred at Oracle Arena after the deciding game of the NBA Finals in June 2019. An Alameda Sheriff’s deputy working as a security guard at the arena struck Ujiri when he attempted to join the Raptors on the court to celebrate their championship. Mercury News

Stop trying to take selfies with sea lions and their pups: Throngs of visitors, captivated by the baby sea lions, may be placing both themselves and the animals at risk, wildlife advocates say. San Diego Union-Tribune

A poem to start your week: “Auto Mirror” by Adam Zagajewski, translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanaugh and Benjamin Ivry. A Poem a Day

Free online games

Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at


Los Angeles: partly sunny, 87. San Diego: partly sunny, 80. San Francisco: partly sunny, 71. San Jose: partly sunny, 87. Fresno: sunny, 98. Sacramento: sunny, 96. More weather is here.


This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California:

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay (Aug. 24, 1972), long-deceased lion of 19th-century California literature Bret Harte (Aug. 25, 1836), KISS singer Gene Simmons (Aug. 25, 1949), former Rep. Katie Hill (Aug. 25, 1987), Rep. Raul Ruiz (Aug. 25, 1972), Rep. Julia Brownley (Aug. 28, 1952) and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (Aug. 28, 1969).

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (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, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.