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Essential California: Understanding the 'fire tornado' that hit Redding

Essential California: Understanding the 'fire tornado' that hit Redding
A high-tension power transmission line tipped over from a tornado-like vortex that reached speeds of perhaps more than 143 mph. (Cal Fire / National Weather Service)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, Aug. 3, and here’s what’s happening across California:



A transmission tower was tipped over. Tiles were torn off the roofs of homes. Massive trees were uprooted. Vehicles were moved. In the rubble of the Redding fire, authorities are seeing not just fire devastation but also strong evidence of a giant, powerful, spinning vortex that accompanied the Carr fire as it cut a path of destruction through Shasta County. Experts said it’s an ominous sign of the future amid hotter conditions. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Firefighters throughout the state are bracing for an increase in strong winds forecast for this weekend that threaten to fan the flames of multiple Northern California wildfires, including the deadly Carr fire. Los Angeles Times

CBS in crisis

CBS board members learned several months ago that the Los Angeles Police Department had investigated an alleged sexual assault by CBS Chairman and Chief Executive Leslie Moonves, according to two people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to speak publicly. Although no charges were filed, Moonves disclosed the existence of a police investigation to a committee of the board, which then hired an outside law firm to investigate the matter, the knowledgeable people said. On Thursday, Moonves spoke to investors but said nothing of the allegations. Los Angeles Times

Trump vs. California, again

The Trump administration Thursday pushed ahead with plans to unravel the federal government’s most effective action to fight climate change — aggressive fuel economy standards aimed at getting the nation’s cars and trucks to average more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025. After months of discussion and drafts, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration formally unveiled their plan to rewrite those rules and replace them with ones so lax that even automakers are wary. Los Angeles Times

Trader Joe's employees wear tie-dye T-shirts in memory of their slain co-worker, Melyda Corado, on Thursday, the first day the store was open since the July 21 shootout.
Trader Joe's employees wear tie-dye T-shirts in memory of their slain co-worker, Melyda Corado, on Thursday, the first day the store was open since the July 21 shootout. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)


On the horizon: At the historic downtown L.A. Tower Theatre, Apple plans a store and event space unlike any other. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Apple became the first U.S. company with a trillion-dollar stock market value. Los Angeles Times

Somber reopening: The Trader Joe’s store in Silver Lake reopened Thursday, almost two weeks after a store manager was killed in a shootout between police and a murder suspect. Staff stood along the aisles and behind registers wearing tie-dye T-shirts, while a billboard outside the store read “Silver Lake always.” Los Angeles Times

And: The tender and terrifying truth about what happened inside the Trader Joe's hostage siege. Los Angeles Times

Another bicyclist killed: “A bicyclist was killed early Thursday morning in a crash with a pickup truck at Seventh Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, Long Beach police said.” Long Beach Post


How low will it go? “The White House’s resident immigrant hawk, Stephen Miller, and a group of like-minded aides are pressing ahead with policies designed to drastically reduce the number of people entering the U.S. both legally and illegally.” Politico



No more fur? Los Angeles could become the biggest city in the United States to ban businesses from selling fur, under a plan being vetted at City Hall. Los Angeles Times

Health insurance battle: The planned expansion of short-term health plans under a new Trump administration rule unveiled this week is on a crash course with a brick wall in California. Los Angeles Times

What’s Nunes talking about? The “Deep State” isn’t Rep. Devin Nunes’ first conspiracy theory. Guess who he blames for the drought. Sacramento Bee


Deemed a hate crime: A 21-year-old Newport Beach man charged with murder in the stabbing death of former high school classmate Blaze Bernstein will also face a hate crime sentencing enhancement, the Orange County district attorney announced Thursday. Los Angeles Times

New to the commission: L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti on Wednesday nominated an attorney who had a hand in some of the most critical reforms in Los Angeles police history to the department’s civilian oversight panel. Los Angeles Times

Smart story: “Why would someone deliberately start a wildfire?” LAist



The Big Lemurowski: A 32-year-old lemur, stolen from Santa Ana Zoo, recently turned up at a Newport Beach hotel. Los Angeles Times


Wow: The Dodgers defeated the Milwaukee Brewers by a score of 21 to 5, setting a record for runs at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles Times

Again? The clock is still ticking for Fox’s hit drama series “24.” At the Television Critics Assn. press tour on Thursday, Fox announced two new spinoffs for the series: a prequel and a new take on the franchise set in the legal arena. Los Angeles Times

Pricey book: “If you’re in the market for a Ferrari, $30,000 won't get you too far, unless you can find a dealer willing to sell you one-tenth of a 488 GTB. But you can still afford a pricey book about the legendary sports car manufacturer.” Los Angeles Times

In training camp: For Matt Fink and Jack Sears, it's time to win the quarterback job at USC — and hold off JT Daniels. Los Angeles Times

Click: “23 Pictures That Show Just How Incredible Summer Is In California.” BuzzFeed

Bizarre: It looks like a supermarket, but it’s in a hotel, and everything is made of felt. Los Angeles Times

Bookmark this: “The 17 Hottest Happy Hours in Los Angeles, August 2018.” Eater Los Angeles


Los Angeles area: sunny, 87, Friday; sunny, 86, Saturday. San Diego: sunny, 82, Friday; sunny, 80, Saturday. San Francisco area: sunny, 66, Friday; sunny, 67, Saturday. San Jose: sunny, 84, Friday and Saturday. Sacramento: partly cloudy, 96, Friday and Saturday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Michael Cowan:

“As a ‘weigh boy’ in the grape fields of the Central Valley, I drove from Bakersfield to Arvin in the early morning darkness five days a week and generally tried to sneak in a brief nap before I had to start weighing the boxes of grapes that the braceros would fill. I curled up in the front seat of my car and parked near the building where they ate their breakfast so I could see when they started to leave for the fields. On more occasions than I can remember, one of the braceros would tap on my window and signal or say, ‘Quiere comer?’ It is a regret to this day that I never accepted the invitation to eat with them.”