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Essential California: Fires rage across the Southland

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, Dec. 7, and here’s what’s happening across California:



More fire, more problems

Crews across the Southland are working hard to contain a slew of fires in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. On Wednesday, a fast-moving blaze forced residents of Bel-Air to evacuate their homes and led to the 405 being closed. Across the region, the Santa Ana wind-driven wildfires have destroyed hundreds of structures, forced tens of thousands to flee and smothered the area with smoke. Officials predicted it would only get worse Thursday. Los Angeles Times

Here’s what we know:

— The Thomas fire in Ventura County has grown to 90,000 acres and is 5% contained, according to authorities. Ojai, the bucolic community long beloved by spiritual seekers, health enthusiasts and celebrities, was in the crosshairs of the massive blaze. Cal Fire rushed heavy equipment and crews to the southeast part of the Ojai Valley in a bid to protect the town of about 7,000 from the devastation that befell other areas. Los Angeles Times

— In Sylmar, the Creek Fire caused more than 100,000 people to be evacuated and was 5% contained as it continued to grow. The fire has burned more than 12,000 acres and destroyed at least 30 homes. Firefighters were bracing for heavy winds, with forecasters predicting gusts in some areas of up to 80 mph. As crews continue to fight the blaze, some residents are beginning to assess the damage to their foothill properties. Los Angeles Times

The brush fire that burned several homes in Bel-Air on Wednesday echoed back to one of Los Angeles’ most destructive fires, which hit the same neighborhood in 1961. Los Angeles Times

— The Getty Center closed for the day because of the wildfires burning across the 405 Freeway, but officials said the flames posed no immediate danger to the museum’s art. Los Angeles Times

— Check out some before and after images of the devastating fires in Southern California. Los Angeles Times

— Track the key details on Southern California’s fires. Los Angeles Times

— See the dramatic photos showing the devastation from these wildfires. Los Angeles Times

— Are you ready for a last-minute evacuation in case of fire? Here's how to prepare. Los Angeles Times


Horribly sad story: Amid the charred landscape of Little Tujunga Canyon Road in Sylmar on Wednesday stood the remains of Rancho Padilla and of nearly 30 horses who died in the Creek fire. Los Angeles Times

More Weinstein fallout: Six women are suing Harvey Weinstein and the studio he co-founded, seeking to turn their case into a class-action suit representing what they say are hundreds of women sexually assaulted or harassed by the movie mogul during his decades in Hollywood. Los Angeles Times


Plus: As Hollywood continues to grapple with the wave of sexual harassment scandals that have reverberated across the entertainment industry and beyond, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences sent a letter to its roughly 8,500 members on Wednesday outlining new standards of conduct that they will be expected to uphold. Los Angeles Times

Regs are ready: Los Angeles lawmakers backed a host of new regulations for the marijuana industry Wednesday, paving the way for the hotly anticipated business of recreational pot. Los Angeles Times


Big changes: The GOP-controlled House voted along party lines on Wednesday to pass legislation that would require states to recognize concealed carry permits from all other states regardless of a state’s permitting standards. Los Angeles Times

DACA protest: Rep. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) was arrested at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday during a demonstration calling on Congress to find a legislative fix for the legal status of hundreds of thousands of people brought into the country illegally as children. Los Angeles Times

Amazing stat: “America’s homeless population has risen this year for the first time since the Great Recession, propelled by the housing crisis afflicting the west coast, according to a new federal study.” The Guardian

Watch: “With over a four decade-long political career, Jerry Brown is the oldest and longest-serving governor in California history. As the sun begins to set on his political career, he is laser-focused on one issue: climate change.” Bloomberg



Feldman tape: The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has reportedly found more records from its 1993 investigation of Michael Jackson — records that include an audio recording of an interview with Corey Feldman. Los Angeles Times

RIP: Jerome Crowe, the FBI agent who delivered the ransom money in the Frank Sinatra Jr. kidnapping, has died at 93. Los Angeles Times


Greening the oil field? “The Belridge oil field in the San Joaquin Valley of California has produced about 1.7 billion barrels of heavy crude since its discovery in 1911. Thanks to advances in solar power, its next 500 million barrels will be a little bit greener.” Forbes


Pearl Harbor Day: A B-17 pilot from California remembers unexpectedly flying into the middle of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on this date in 1941. Orange County Register

Should he stay or go? Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Robert Iger may stay on the job longer than expected if the Burbank entertainment giant buys major assets from 21st Century Fox. Iger, 66, had said he would retire from the company he has steered through a rapid expansion when his deal expires in July 2019. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Walt Disney Co.’s potential takeover of much of 21st Century Fox could provide an enormous boost to Disney’s ESPN sports empire. Los Angeles Times

LA Weekly update: The outcry against LA Weekly’s new owners, which had already caused some advertisers to step back, now has also pushed away potential investor Erwin Chemerinsky. And several vendors slated to offer drinks and desserts at the alternative newsweekly’s upcoming Sips and Sweets festival have decided to sit out the event. Los Angeles Times

New restaurant on the horizon: The founders of République, a lauded fine-dining establishment in Hancock Park, have agreed to open a bistro in the former Los Angeles Herald Examiner newspaper building, which is undergoing a renovation. Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles area: sunny, 76, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 78, Thursday. San Diego: partly cloudy, 75, Thursday; partly cloudy, 73, Friday. San Francisco area: sunny, 65, Thursday; partly cloudy, 63, Friday. Sacramento: sunny, 62, Thursday; partly cloudy, 62, Friday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Michelle Forte:

“My grandfather was a salesman for a prominent plumbing supply company in the ’80s and traveled up and down California. He once took us with him on a trip up the California coast. One day we stopped at fancy restaurant in Monterey Bay. As a child, I never liked fish. I did, however, love steak. My grandfather ordered me the swordfish. When I did finally taste it, I was very surprised that I liked it. It tasted much like steak to me! My grandparents long ago passed away, but I'll never forget their memory or what they taught me.”