Newsletter: Essential California: Fires rage from San Diego to the San Fernando Valley

A firefighter turns away from the heat as flames explode through the front windows of a home burning in the Lilac fire in northern San Diego County.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, Dec. 8, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Flames roar through Southern California

Powerful Santa Ana winds helped fuel new destructive wildfires across Southern California on Thursday that forced evacuations as firefighters slowly made progress on others. In northern San Diego County, a fire spread through the Bonsall area, charring more than 4,000 acres, destroying 20 structures and threatening 1,000 more in the rural area of horses and agricultural land. In Murrieta, a fast-moving wildfire destroyed at least one home and triggered evacuations. The blaze, reported about 1:15 p.m. near Los Alamos and Liberty roads, scorched 300 acres in about three hours, according to Cal Fire. Los Angeles Times


More about the fires

— Driven by erratic winds through parched narrow canyons, the hydra-headed Thomas fire in Ventura County continued its onslaught on many fronts Thursday, roaring through beach communities, suburbs, fruit orchards and rugged mountain redoubts. Los Angeles Times

— The Thomas fire was yet another in the string of harrowing wildfires that are searing 2017 into the state’s record books. They all have had one thing in common — fierce, dry winds from the interior that quickly turn a fire into an inferno. Los Angeles Times

— What’s different about the Santa Ana winds this year? The air is the driest it’s been in recorded history, said UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain. Los Angeles Times


— What do hungry firefighters eat for breakfast? Try 10,000 eggs and 4,500 strips of bacon. Los Angeles Times

Times columnist Robin Abcarian was up in Ventura County this week and writes about being mesmerized by the terrible beauty of the flames, while waiting for the Santa Anas to do their worst. Los Angeles Times


Weighing in: Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Dylan Farrow asks why the #MeToo revolution spared her father Woody Allen. Los Angeles Times


Moving tale: At a humble ceremony, L.A. County’s unclaimed dead were remembered. Many of the dead have “no one but the county” and those in attendance to mourn them, said L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn. Los Angeles Times

How they roll: A new L.A. food truck aims to foster a new generation of healthy eaters. Los Angeles Daily News

The queen at 50: Half a century ago, the Queen Mary sailed into Long Beach Harbor, her oceangoing days behind her. On Friday and Saturday, a weekend 50th anniversary party will celebrate her arrival. Los Angeles Times



One step forward: A committee of the Los Angeles City Council backed a plan Thursday to formally declare L.A. a “city of sanctuary,” a symbolic gesture that comes as the city continues to battle President Trump’s administration over immigration policies. Los Angeles Times


That tax bill! Californians still might retain their ability to deduct state and local taxes from their federal returns under the Republican overhaul — but with a catch. The total annual deduction would be capped at $10,000, which is the same level as a limited deduction for property taxes that both the House and Senate plans already include. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Vulnerable California Republicans say they are watching closely as House leaders work on a final tax bill with the Senate, hoping they’ll win back some popular deductions that would lower tax bills in their districts. Los Angeles Times


Nunes is cleared: The House Ethics Committee on Thursday cleared Devin Nunes of allegations that the congressman from Tulare disclosed classified information related to the House investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Los Angeles Times

A new leader: State Senate leader Kevin de León said Thursday that the Senate Democratic Caucus is supporting Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) to take over for him as Senate president pro tem in 2018 after an election in January. Los Angeles Times


Vendors settlement: Los Angeles lawmakers have agreed to spend up to $150,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by street vendors who claimed that their carts and other belongings had been improperly seized and destroyed. Los Angeles Times


Shooting aftermath: A Los Angeles County jury awarded $3.6 million to the family of a 28-year-old man who was killed by sheriff’s deputies in a videotaped shooting that drew widespread attention in 2015, attorneys said Wednesday. Los Angeles Times

Only in California: A jury awarded $85,000 to the wife of former San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock for ruptured breast implants she suffered during a 2015 sidewalk fall. San Diego Union-Tribune


Interesting study: The state’s primary environmental law governing development doesn’t block development from actually happening, according to a state study released Thursday. Los Angeles Times



Are they tulips? Bitcoin’s price is skyrocketing. Even Uber drivers and house cleaners want in. Los Angeles Times

Music! Jazz singer Gregory Porter had worship on his mind when he performed at the Ace Hotel earlier this week. Los Angeles Times

The homelessness epidemic: “Like other major cities all along the West Coast, San Diego is struggling with a homeless crisis. In a place that bills itself as ‘America’s Finest City,’ renowned for its sunny weather, surfing and fish tacos, spiraling real estate values have contributed to spiraling homelessness, leaving more than 3,200 people living on the streets or in their cars.” Associated Press


Fries with that? In-N-Out heiress Lynsi Snyder has listed her San Gabriel Valley mansion for $19.8 million. Orange County Register


Los Angeles area: partly cloudy, 76, Friday; partly cloudy, 82, Saturday. San Diego: partly cloudy, 73, Friday; partly cloudy, 76, Saturday. San Francisco area: partly cloudy, 63, Friday; partly cloudy, 64, Saturday. Sacramento: partly cloudy, 61, Friday; partly cloudy, 63, Saturday. More weather is here.



Today’s California memory comes from Jean Stevens:

“As fires burn in Bel-Air, I think of my father who was a Hollywood fireman in the 1940s and later his courageous acts as a captain for L.A. Fire Department in Los Angeles. My grandmother was born in Los Angeles in 1900. She use to tell me about riding a covered wagon to Redondo Beach from downtown Los Angeles. My mother used to drive the freeways to downtown Los Angeles and was part of a female management team that brought a major lawsuit against the Pacific Telephone Co. for equal pay back in the 1960s. I graduated from Huntington Beach High School 50 years ago. I will never forget meeting the legendary Hawaiian, Duke Kahanamoku, and my gall to tell him I disagreed with his choice for the winner of United States Surfing Championship. Today I live high in the mountains of New Mexico but will never forget the Mamas & the Papas singing from my car radio ‘California Dreamin’ ’ while driving down Pacific Coast Highway in my VW Bug.”

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.