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Today: The Horror of a Wildfire With No Warning

What began as a tiny brushfire became the deadliest wildfire in California history, marked by harrowing stories of survival.

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The Horror of a Wildfire With No Warning

Seventy-seven people dead. Nearly 1,000 listed as missing. Some 50,000 residents displaced. More than 14,000 structures destroyed. As horrifying as the numbers from the Camp fire in Northern California are, they don’t tell the full story of those who were trapped, as the tires on their cars and soles of their shoes melted. Of the flames blown sideways by the wind, propelled so quickly from house to house that the trees around them remained unscorched. Of the emergency responders trying to ram their way through abandoned cars. Or of a woman pleading with her father not to go back into her childhood home, before seeing it collapse in flame.

The Camp fire burns outside Pulga, Calif., on the North Fork of the Feather River.
The Camp fire burns outside Pulga, Calif., on the North Fork of the Feather River. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Behind the Number of Missing People

The number of people reported missing in the Camp fire is staggering: close to 1,000, at last count, ranging in age from 8 to 101. Could that many have died? Officials say it’s unlikely, given that some people appear to be listed twice or more and others may be someplace safe, unaware they are considered missing. “Obviously, I am not missing,” said one woman who owns a house in Paradise but lives in Portland, Ore. Yet the list’s sheer size sets no one’s mind at ease.

More About the Fires

-- The tiny community of Concow was hit hard by the Camp fire. Residents hope they’re not forgotten.

-- The massive Woolsey fire has destroyed 1,452 structures, but as crews near containment of the fire, some residents of Malibu and environs are being allowed back to the area.

-- Columnist Steve Lopez checks in with a Ventura couple whose house burned last year. They are already rebuilding, but with more fire protection.

-- Finland’s president isn't sure where President Trump got the idea that raking is part of his country’s routine for managing its substantial forests. Experts say fires in the two nations are completely different.

Trump’s Familiar Refrain

A pushback against U.S. intelligence agencies. Criticism of Robert S. Mueller III. Name-calling. As Trump faces pressure on a number of fronts, he is turning to his well-worn playbook. Many in Congress want to punish Saudi Arabia, with the CIA reportedly having concluded that the kingdom’s crown prince authorized the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi; Trump has cast doubt on that assessment. Meanwhile, as the president answers written questions from the special counsel, Trump said he wouldn’t object if the acting attorney general tried to rein in the investigation. The president also lashed out at Rep. Adam Schiff, the likely incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman, by tweeting a vulgar play off his surname.

‘We Feel Trapped’

When the first wave of a caravan of thousands of mostly Central American migrants arrived, protesters sang the national anthem, waved the flag and shouted, “This is an invasion!” A scene in the U.S.? No, this is Tijuana. Though it’s a city of immigrants and has long served as a way station for those headed to the U.S., the caravan prompted a hostile reaction. Demonstrators tried to storm a sports facility housing caravan participants, many of whom are expected to apply for asylum in the U.S. Inside the facility, families say they were scared to leave.

OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

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-- The Robinson R44, the world’s best-selling civilian helicopter, has a long history of deadly crashes.

-- As the Trump administration has sparred with China, Beijing has significantly increased its theft of American commercial technology and intellectual property.

-- What was once unthinkable has happened: Orange County has turned blue, with Democrats completing a historic sweep of its seven congressional seats​​.​​

-- After losing to the UCLA Bruins, this looks like the end for football coach Clay Helton at USC. A lot of Trojan fans are ready to move on.

-- Animation is booming again, thanks to streaming companies led by Netflix and Amazon.

CALIFORNIA

-- After the shooting that killed a dozen people at the Borderline Bar and Grill, many in Thousand Oaks are wondering: How has the country moved on already?

-- The L.A. County district attorney’s office is reviewing a complaint that straw donors contributed to the campaign of sheriff’s candidate Alex Villanueva. The challenger has increased his lead over incumbent Jim McDonnell.

-- The amount of money collected by the state from taxes on cannabis grown and sold legally continues to increase but is still falling short of budget estimates, according to figures released last week.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

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-- With “The Little Drummer Girl,” AMC is going for a second helping of John le Carré. The miniseries adaptation of the novel was directed by Park Chan-wook of “Oldboy” fame.

-- At 83, Jerry Lee Lewis showed he’s still “The Ferriday Fireball” during a dynamic performance in Cerritos.

-- The death of Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman represents the end of an era in Hollywood, writes film critic Kenneth Turan.

-- “The Star Wars Holiday Special” aired only once on TV, but it was weird enough to make an impression 40 years later.

NATION-WORLD

-- Florida's Republican Gov. Rick Scott says incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson called him to concede defeat in their extremely tight race.

-- North Ogden, Utah, laid to rest its mayor, a National Guardsman killed in Afghanistan, reportedly by a member of the Afghan defense and security forces.

-- The FDA is taking aim at menthol and other tobacco flavorings, but that may be tricky.

-- With her political career hanging by a thread, British Prime Minister Theresa May says “Brexit” won’t be any easier if she’s gone.

-- Mexico may soon legalize marijuana, a radical shift for a country whose prohibition of narcotics has been at the heart of a long war against trafficking.

BUSINESS

-- Yoga pants have grown into a $48-billion industry that’s replacing jeans.

-- How Apple and other manufacturers are limiting your options to repair their products.

SPORTS

-- LeBron James scored 51 points against his former club the Miami Heat to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 113-97 victory.

-- The Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs play at the Coliseum tonight. It could be a Super Bowl preview.

OPINION

-- Bipartisan criminal justice reform could happen soon, if the 1990s wing of the GOP gets out of the way.

-- Harvey Levin and Michael Avenatti are proof that salaciousness and statecraft have become one.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- This political satire site sees its fake stories about liberals go viral, then tries to play “gotcha.” But is it just contributing to the mess online? (Washington Post)

-- A graphic shows how the “Chinese century” is already underway. (The Economist)

-- Is it time for J.K. Rowling to give the whole Harry Potter thing a rest? (The Guardian)

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

During the Gold Rush, the town of Hornitos’ brothels, bars and shootouts led to it being called the “wickedest spot in the mother lode.” It was also home to Domingo Ghirardelli’s chocolate shop, before he became famous in San Francisco. But now, Hornitos is pretty much a ghost town — except for one day a year, when the ghosts bring it back to life.

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

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