Today’s Headlines: Inside a giant sequoia grove scorched by the KNP Complex fire

A burned tree with mountains and sky in the background.
Kings Canyon National Park’s Redwood Mountain Grove was devastated by the KNP Complex and Windy fires.
(Tomas Ovalle / For The Times)

Hello, it’s Friday, Nov. 26, and before getting to today’s top headlines, we pause to note the somber news about OR-93, California’s most adventurous wolf. Even those who aren’t fans of the animals have noted the incredible odyssey of this lone gray wolf who trekked hundreds of miles from Oregon to the edge of Southern California’s suburbs, in search of a mate and territory, before being hit by a vehicle.

His story spurred a revisit to the archives for a favorite from The Times’ Column Ones, “The Day Cinderella Vanished.” Rosemary McClure, former Times travel writer, wrote from Yosemite in 2004 on “the gray lady” whose sister left her bloodied and scarred when she was young. Yet Cinderella prevailed and ruled with her longtime mate over the Druid Peak Pack.

A wolf with a collar around his neck lies on a hillside.
OR-93 is shown in February 2021 near Yosemite, Calif.
(California Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Archrivals the Mollie’s Pack, however, were out for territory, and one morning “a grim chorus of howls shattered the predawn stillness. As darkness gave way to dim light, a wolf emerged in a clearing. He was charcoal gray, with a splash of black fur marking his snout and eyes. He sat up tall, his head thrown back in a long, desolate moan. His hot breath froze when it hit the air, leaving shards of ice dangling from his muzzle.”

It’s recommended reading for a holiday weekend. Scroll down for more great reads.

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


Stepping inside a giant sequoia grove devastated by fire

Due to a trio of destructive wildfires, nearly 20% of all giant sequoias may have died in a span of 14 months, according to an expert estimate. The giant sequoia is found only in California, primarily on the western slopes of the southern Sierra. Before the KNP Complex, Windy and Castle fires, there were about 75,000 of the massive specimens in the world; today that number may be as low as 60,000.

With their towering canopies and thick bark, giant sequoias have adapted to withstand low-intensity fire; they even need it to reproduce. But ferocious fires in recent years, fueled by climate change, have proved fatal to trees once thought to be impervious to flames. Most of the giant sequoias killed by the KNP Complex fire were in a single grove; we visit the site where flames may have blanketed the tops of the trees rising more than 250 feet.

New virus variant emerges in South Africa


A new coronavirus variant has been detected in South Africa that scientists say is a concern because of its high number of mutations and rapid spread among young people. South Africa has seen a dramatic rise in new infections. Currently identified as B.1.1.529, the new variant also has been found in Botswana and Hong Kong in travelers from South Africa.

Stay up to date on pandemic developments, coronavirus case counts and vaccine news with Coronavirus Today.

Fines and citations but no compliance

Some businesses have ignored L.A. County COVID-19 protocols, racking up citations and fines and testing the powers and patience of the Department of Public Health.

Under the county code, the department has been issuing citations of $500 a day for violations of COVID-19 health orders. Repeat violators also face “noncompliance fees” that are charged for re-inspection costs. And the county can suspend and eventually revoke a public health permit. In many cases, those tools seem to be enough to bring businesses in line. But a handful of businesses have held out even after losing a public health permit.

Tougher to make ends meet

Gas costs are at record highs. Statistics show the average cost nationwide of meat, poultry, fish and eggs is up 11.9% over the last year. Add in the cost of living in L.A. County, and a family with two adults, a preschooler and a school-age child would need to make at least $95,112 a year to meet their basic needs, an advocacy organization says.

Food banks across the state have reported sustained higher demand — in some cases two to three times what it was before the pandemic, officials say. The Times talked with folks at some community centers and food banks around the L.A. area.

Closeup of a box of cereal held by a woman.
“It looks like a little box, but you get a lot,” said Anna Velazquez on seeing a box of breakfast cereal in her food box. “It’s hard to go to the market. It’s $20 in the door and you hardly get anything.”
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

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After he sued SeaWorld to liberate the whales, they started sending him postcards. Legal activist Matthew Strugar in 2010 made waves on the animal rights scene by suing the theme park on behalf of five orcas it held in captivity. Starting in 2018, he began receiving postcards from mysterious marine correspondents. The lighthearted mystery finally unraveled.

The mayor of San Bernardino misused public funds, an investigation finds. Mayor John Valdivia billed the city for invitations to a private event as well as for trips that included fundraising, according to the probe.

Irvine has approved regulations for an asphalt plant that residents say spreads toxic fumes. The move follows years of pressure from residents. Trucks carrying materials from the All American Asphalt plant will, among other things, have to take new routes away from schools and residential areas.

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“We were like a football.” Desperate Iraqis have become unwitting players in the grudge match between Belarus and the EU.

An explosion in a Siberian coal mine killed at least 52 and trapped dozens more. A methane gas explosion and fire filled the mine with toxic fumes. Of 285 people in the Listvyazhnaya mine, rescuers led to the surface 239 miners, 49 of whom were injured, and found 11 bodies. Six rescuers reportedly died while searching for others trapped in a remote section of the mine.


“Let It Be” was never the Beatles’ breakup movie. Peter Jackson’s seven-hour-plus docuseries “Get Back,” on Disney+, aims to redirect the spotlight to the Beatles’ creative camaraderie and affectionate goofing that were the actual heart of those sessions.

The conviction in the 1981 rape of author Alice Sebold has been overturned. The conviction was at the center of a memoir by the award-winning author. It was overturned because of what authorities determined were serious flaws with the 1982 prosecution and concerns the wrong man had been sent to jail.

Believe the hype. Reviews for “House of Gucci,” which opened in theaters Wednesday, have generally been lukewarm. But even some of the most critical reviewers agree: Lady Gaga is “transfixing,” “coldly electrifying” and “wildly watchable.” The “Chromatica” artist stars as Patrizia Reggiani, the real-life Italian socialite who was convicted in 1997 of plotting the murder of her ex-husband.


Grammy move benefited established performers. An expansion of the award nominations was aimed at improving inclusion but reportedly benefited established artists such as Taylor Swift and Kanye West.

The near-strike by Hollywood crews could be a sign of things to come. The close vote portends a new era of labor activism inside the 128-year-old International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and could pose a challenge to the leadership of union President Matthew Loeb, IATSE members and labor experts said.


“We want Rus-sell! We want Rus-sell!” Columnist Bill Plaschke interviews Russell Stong, UCLA’s most beloved player. The senior is a walk-on who has made one basket in four years.

Here are the top college football games to watch for the rest of this holiday weekend, including at 12:30 p.m. today on ABC. The Group of Five finally has a team in the College Football Playoff top four. Can Cincinnati survive solid, 7-4 East Carolina?

Jim Fenwick has a story to tell about what family means to him. The former football coach survived leukemia 17 years ago when son Casey donated bone marrow. Recently his leukemia came back. His 15-year-old granddaughter has volunteered to donate bone marrow.

The Chargers are no longer on the defensive about stopping the run. The team’s run defense has improved the last four games by limiting opponents to an average of 3.7 yards per carry. Up next, the Denver Broncos.


No community should be treated as a sacrifice zone. A draft regulation from the Newsom administration to prevent new oil drilling operations within 3,200 feet of homes, schools, playgrounds and hospitals is a good idea. To make it a great one, the governor must end neighborhood drilling everywhere.

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See holiday lights. If you want to get a jump on the best displays around L.A., some of them are already underway. We have maps and details on a long list of displays, including GLOW at the South Coast Botanic Garden and Hikari: Festival of Lights at Tanaka Farms.

Shop for a Christmas tree (if that’s your tradition). But first read up on it. Even experienced tree buyers might learn a thing or two (for instance, the concept of a tree shaker was entirely new).

Eat a nice salad. Food columnist Ben Mims in his recent Cooking newsletter spotlighted Chez Panisse chef David Tanis, who whipped up some winter salads, a great antidote to turkey overload.

A salad of greens, shaved Parmesan and sliced radishes on a white plate.
This radish and arugula salad was made with produce bought at the Hollywood Farmers Market.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)


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Call them Festus and Skid Mark. Times staff writer Ben Poston writes about a 23-year tradition with his father of hiking the Appalachian Trail. Along the journey: sobriety for both, cancer, a change of religion. “Our lives were ever-changing, but the trail always offered us familiar peace from the outside world — a walking meditation through the quiet forest shared with each other and the countless hikers we met.” (Los Angeles Times)

Inside the CDC’s pandemic “weather service”: The agency has created an ambitious $200-million center to predict future outbreaks — but diseases are a lot harder to model than storms. (New York Times)

“An Evening in the Shadows.” The longest partial lunar eclipse in 580 years occurred last week, and photographers around the world did their best to capture the once-in-a-lifetime event on camera. Photographer Andrew McCarthy went the extra mile by staying up until 4 a.m. and capturing thousands of photos to create an incredible composite of the eclipse. (PetaPixel)

Now that we’ve had our fill of Thanksgiving dinner, here’s what future Thanksgiving menus could have in store as climate change transforms the planet (drought and deluge have already cut wheat production 10%, experts say): wild boar, lab-grown turkey, crickets in your pie crust, kelp salad, truffle mashed potatoes, prickly pear pie. The GIFs on this one are worth a click alone. (The Washington Post)


Young men play football. They wear leather helmets, jerseys with small shoulder pads, and ankle-high cleats.
90 years ago this week: A UCLA football player is tackled by two University of Florida players at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in a Thanksgiving Day game in 1931.
(Los Angeles Times)

The Nov. 27, 1931, Times Sports section trumpeted UCLA’s 13-0 victory over the University of Florida: “Archie Alligator and Bobby Bruin wrangled over the Thanksgiving Turkey’s wishbone in the Olympic Stadium yesterday. The Bruin captured the trophy, wished for a victory, and got it.”

Today’s newsletter was curated by Amy Hubbard. Comments or ideas? Email us at