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Today: A Fire’s Toll — Living in Limbo, Remembering the Dead

Evacuees who fled the Camp fire in Northern California are facing hardship and disease, along with agonizing memories of the victims and those missing.

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A Fire’s Toll — Living in Limbo, Remembering the Dead

For the people who survived the Camp fire that engulfed the town of Paradise, life as they knew it is gone. In its place, a state of limbo. Some sleep in their trucks; others, in a tent city outside a Walmart in nearby Chico; and still more in evacuation centers, which have become breeding grounds for disease. Many pray that family members or friends will be found; more than 630 are reported as still missing. They also mourn the dead — at least 63 confirmed so far — and relate the stories of their lives. Officials say it could take weeks to complete the search for victims of the worst wildfire in California history.

Destruction in Paradise, Calif.
Destruction in Paradise, Calif. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

More About the Fires

-- President Trump plans to visit California on Saturday “to meet with individuals impacted by the wildfires,” a spokeswoman says.

-- Gov. Jerry Brown and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke met with Woolsey fire incident commanders. The governor urged officials to finish the long-delayed cleanup of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory nuclear site near where the fire started.

-- Harmful wildfire smoke is blanketing communities across California. Here’s how to pick the right mask. Not all of them provide adequate protection.

GOP Voters Wouldn’t Call This a ‘Success’

Just nine days ago, President Trump held a postelection news conference to claim a “tremendous success” for him and his party at the ballot box. A new USC-Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll shows that most of his supporters aren't buying that. And as votes are still being counted, or recounted, in several states and districts, the picture for Democrats in the House of Representatives has only gotten better. The latest: Democrat Katie Porter has ousted GOP Rep. Mimi Walters in an upscale Orange County district that was a longtime conservative bastion.

More Politics

-- A federal judge slammed Florida for repeatedly failing to anticipate election problems, calling it a “laughingstock.”

-- Memo to Democrats pondering a presidential run: The clock is already ticking.

‘Brexit’ Means …

When Theresa May became Britain’s prime minister, she addressed voters who had just opted for the country to leave the European Union with a koan-like reassurance: “Brexit means Brexit.” Working out the details has not been a moment of Zen. This week, May appeared to have a deal in place. Less than 24 hours later, her government was in peril after a slew of Cabinet resignations over her “Brexit” strategy and threats of a no-confidence vote in her leadership.

Another View of the Dragnet on I-5

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Los Angeles County inspector general Max Huntsman is still in the early stages of an investigation of a Sheriff’s Department team that pulled over thousands of innocent Latino motorists on the 5 Freeway in search of drugs. But already he’s reached a troubling conclusion: “The system is inherently built to violate the constitutional rights of a vast number of people passing through the I-5 Freeway.” Huntsman began his probe of the team after an L.A. Times report last month.

MUST-WATCH VIDEO

-- Haunting aerial views of the fire aftermath in Paradise, Calif.

FLASHBACK FRIDAY

Before George Fischbeck became known to Southern California TV viewers as weatherman Dr. George, he was a science teacher in Albuquerque for 23 years. A trained meteorologist, Fischbeck was so enthusiastic about his subject that he sometimes forgot to talk about the forecast. “He claps his hands, flaps his arms, wiggles his bristly mustache, mugs for the camera and cannot be ignored or forgotten. Only rarely is he subdued.” So begins a Nov. 15, 1978, profile of Fischbeck by longtime Times TV critic Howard Rosenberg.

Dr. George Fischbeck, a science teacher turned weatherman, died in March 2015.
Dr. George Fischbeck, a science teacher turned weatherman, died in March 2015. (Larry Bessel / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

-- At a memorial, thousands paid tribute to Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, who was killed in the shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks last week.

-- Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar has been removed from all of his committee assignments after FBI agents raided his home and offices Nov. 7.

-- A stinging state audit of the bullet train project has found flawed decision-making, organizational faults and poor contract management. The result: multibillion-dollar cost overruns and delays in construction.

YOUR WEEKEND

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-- Thanksgiving is next week. Here’s where to buy the turkey, how to cook the bird and 94 recipes for all the trimmings.

-- When are L.A.’s worst traffic times around Thanksgiving and the worst time to drive to LAX? Read and weep (and, hopefully, avoid).

-- In Monterey Park, there’s a great hike to do before or after your xiao long bao crawl.

-- Don’t count on vitamin D or fish oil supplements to reduce your risk of cancer or heart disease.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- The film “Widows” from director Steve McQueen is a heist thriller with a vengeance and a conscience.

-- Oscar prediction time (already?!): Columnist Glenn Whipp says these nine movies will be nominated for best picture.

-- Our pop music critic watched the Country Music Assn. Awards and found they offered a vivid demonstration of Nashville’s gender problem.

NATION-WORLD

-- After a month on the road, hundreds of caravan travelers find they're unwelcome in Tijuana.

-- Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor says he is seeking the death penalty for five people suspected of taking part in the slaying of dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi.

-- The last surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge, which once brutally ruled Cambodia, were convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes by an international tribunal.

-- With peace on the horizon in Syria, the Christian city of Mhardeh is grappling with its decision to back the government.

BUSINESS

-- Facebook Inc. chief Mark Zuckerberg is trying to distance himself from a New York Times report that his company hired a right-wing firm to smear its critics.

-- A big pile of debt comes due at Tesla on March 1: $920 million worth. But starting in two weeks, the company has a chance to make it disappear.

SPORTS

-- Will a victory against UCLA on Saturday save USC football coach Clay Helton’s job? Some USC fans say no — and even wish the team would lose to its crosstown rival to hasten Helton’s exit.

-- USC’s newest varsity team? It’s esports.

OPINION

-- No, slow vote counts don't mean fraud. To suggest otherwise is irresponsible.

-- We ought to remember the St. Francis Dam failure, the worst man-made disaster in California history.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- A filing reveals the Justice Department has prepared an indictment against Julian Assange. It would be a drastic escalation of the government’s long battle with him and WikiLeaks. (New York Times)

-- China’s male pop stars have a problem: They’re not macho enough for the Communist Party’s liking. (Foreign Policy)

-- A family bought its dream house in New Jersey. Then the creepy letters started coming. (The Cut)

ONLY IN L.A.

When L.A. Times photographer Wally Skalij was covering the Woolsey fire last week, he happened upon horses and alpacas waiting out the fire on Zuma Beach. He also spotted an owl. “It was surreal,” he said. “It looked like a scene from Noah’s Ark.” Fortunately for the subjects of one photo — Thunder and Luke the alpacas and Gidget the horse — a ride to safety came.

If you like this newsletter, please share it with friends. Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.

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