Newsletter: Our state of emergency


Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Oct. 28, and I’m writing from Santa Rosa.

California is in a state of emergency, in every sense of the phrase. The official kind — a statewide emergency — was declared by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday, as the massive Kincade fire continued its southwest march across Sonoma County and numerous other fires flared up across the state. Meanwhile, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. expanded its power outages across Northern California to nearly 1 million customers, meaning well more than 2 million people were in the dark Sunday. (Here’s a map of where PG&E has shut off power to its customers.)

The Kincade fire, which is only 5% contained, has destroyed 94 structures, damaged 17 and threatens an additional 80,000, officials said at a Sunday night briefing. Nearly 200,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.


Sitting on a black cot in a cavernous event center-turned-evacuation shelter at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, 26-year-old Rhiannon Davenport said she was mainly just trying to pray and breathe. Sirens had blared through her Santa Rosa neighborhood earlier in the day, as mandatory evacuations were put in place. She’d packed up her valuables in 10 minutes, filled a backpack, grabbed a brightly colored blanket and jumped in a cab down here.

The already harrowing weather conditions across much of the state won’t be letting up anytime soon: Red-flag warnings that already covered a large swath of Northern California have been expanded southward, and red-flag warnings were issued for much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties into Monday.

[Read the story: “Red-flag warnings expand, with Santa Anas returning late Sunday to Southern California” in the Los Angeles Times]

The Los Angeles area will again be at extreme fire risk this week as powerful Santa Ana winds return. Los Angeles and Ventura counties are expected to see winds of 40 to 50 mph, with gusts reaching 60 mph. Gusts could reach 70 mph later in the week, the National Weather Service said.

More on the fires:

  • A growing brush fire is burning along Interstate 405 near the Getty Center, prompting the Los Angeles Fire Department to announce an evacuation warning zone west of Interstate 405, south of Mulholland Drive, north of Sunset Boulevard and east of Pacific Coast Highway. Los Angeles Times
  • Evacuating the frail and disabled during blackouts has become a serious issue. Here’s a look at some of the challenges during the Kincade fire. Los Angeles Times
  • Gov. Newsom is in crisis mode as California endures wildfires, power outages and winds. Los Angeles Times
  • The historic Soda Rock winery was destroyed by the Kincade fire. The stone-walled winery is considered a major historic site in the Alexander Valley and is a popular tourist destination. Los Angeles Times
  • There will be widespread school closures in wine country and parts of the Bay Area on Monday. San Francisco Chronicle
  • A hero firefighter shielded evacuees from surging flames. All survived.San Francisco Chronicle
  • Drivers describe some harrowing moments crossing the Carquinez Bridge amid fire. Los Angeles Times


Rep. Katie Hill (D-Santa Clarita) announced Sunday that she would resign from Congress after allegations that she engaged in affairs with a congressional aide and a campaign staff member became public this month. Her letter to constituents did not specify when the resignation would take effect. Hill will be the first female member of Congress to resign in a post-#MeToo era. Los Angeles Times


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


Youth Policy Institute, an L.A.-based nonprofit known for its anti-poverty programs, announced Friday that it would be shutting down. The collapse of the organization leaves services for some of L.A.’s neediest families in doubt. Los Angeles Times

What happens if a fire approaches a school while classes are still in session? Here’s a look at LAUSD policy. LAist

“Highland Park is my barrio.” Local outlet L.A. Taco takes on a recent New York Times real estate story on gentrification in Highland Park. Here’s what L.A. Taco editor Javier Cabral thinks should have been done differently. L.A. Taco

Actor Ted Danson, “Jane Fonda’s new trainee,” is the latest celebrity to be arrested with Fonda at the U.S. Capitol for demonstrating on behalf of efforts to combat climate change. Los Angeles Times


In honor of Halloween, here’s a horror movie map of L.A.: Seek these filming locations out at your own peril. Curbed LA

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Fire season doesn’t stop at the border: Deadly Baja California wildfires killed at least three people and destroyed hundreds of homes. Cleanup has begun in Tijuana, while firefighters continue battling blazes in Tecate and Ensenada. San Diego Union-Tribune


Protests at an Oakland Unified School District board meeting brought chaos and arrests last week. Six were arrested on suspicion of disturbing the peace and disturbing a public meeting, and one person was taken to a hospital. East Bay Times



West Covina’s former mayor was charged with battery after allegedly shoving a man at a Montebello golf course. San Gabriel Valley Tribune


The effects of strong winds went beyond the fires: Nine people were injured when a tree fell at a Martinez farmers market in the East Bay. Mercury News

Monterey County hospitals are seeing more overdoses, especially among youth. The county health department recently issued a warning about a spike in fatal overdoses, probably driven by fentanyl. Salinas Californian



While the Inland Empire has been transformed into a national logistics hub, Fontana residents deal with noise and pollution. Los Angeles Times

In the last five years, distribution centers have been squeezing out Fontana residents.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

You’ve heard of online registries for brides and babies? These two online gift registries will help furnish the apartments being created for homeless people in a former Modesto motel. Modesto Bee

A new exhibit at UC Irvine tracks the history and evolution of witchcraft, and its rise as a feminist identity. Daily Pilot

San Diego’s oldest Day of the Dead celebration is a labor of love for loved ones lost. San Diego Union-Tribune

The greater Los Angeles area and Orange County are among the fastest-growing tech markets in the nation, according to a new report. Orange County Register



Los Angeles: sunny, 79. San Diego: sunny, 75. San Francisco: sunny, 69. San Jose: sunny, 72. Sacramento: sunny, 71. More weather is here.


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

Caitlyn Jenner (Oct. 28, 1949), actress Tracee Ellis Ross (Oct. 29, 1972), former Rep. Darrell Issa (Nov. 1, 1952), Dodgers legend Fernando Valenzuela (Nov. 1, 1960) and Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook (Nov. 1, 1960).

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.