Today’s Headlines: California forests are vanishing as wildfires burn larger

A stand of trees and charred hillside with a road.
The Crescent Grade north of the Sierra Nevada town of Greenville, where Highway 89 was green with pines, firs and cedars before the Dixie fire charred the area.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

By Elvia Limón, Laura Blasey and Amy Hubbard

Hello, it’s Wednesday, July 20, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


Catastrophic wildfires have reduced California forests

A burn scar in Northern California offers an unsettling glimpse into what forests across the Sierra Nevada could become. Bare tree carcasses are strewn across the dun-colored hills. Rock outcroppings jut out like bones.


Two massive wildfires have torn through here over the last 15 years. It’s a pattern that threatens to repeat across California’s most extensive and iconic mountain range as wildfires have increased in both size and severity over the last two decades.

About 1.5 million acres of the Sierra Nevada burned last fire season. That surpassed 2020. A study by researchers at UC Irvine and UC Davis found that solely considering rising summer temperatures, the acreage burned will increase by up to 92% by the 2040s.

The House approved a same-sex-marriage bill

The U.S. House overwhelmingly approved legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriages amid concerns that the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe vs. Wade’s guarantee of abortion access could jeopardize other rights criticized by conservative Americans.

The vote was 267 to 157, with dozens of Republican joining Democrats for passage.

But the Respect for Marriage Act, as the bill is known, is almost certain to fail in the evenly split Senate, where most Republicans will likely join a filibuster to block it.


More politics

  • Conservative TV channel Newsmax is presenting viewers with an “alternate universe” of how the deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol unfolded Jan. 6, 2021, a new research report finds.

Sign up for our California Politics newsletter to get the best of The Times’ state politics reporting and the latest action in Sacramento.

A refuge for Arizonans seeking abortions

On a recent Monday afternoon, all the abortion appointments at Planned Parenthood-Imperial Valley Health Center were already booked up for the week. It didn’t use to be this way.

The El Centro clinic was always busy. Now it’s overwhelmed as it finds itself on the front lines of the drastic changes wrought by the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Dobbs decision.

Almost instantly, many abortion clinics throughout the country stopped providing services, positioning states such as California, where the procedure is still legal, as something of a refuge for people seeking abortions.


L.A. County goes it alone in the push for mask rules

Sustained growth in coronavirus-positive hospitalizations has Los Angeles County on the brink of a new public indoor mask mandate, a move officials say could help curb still-widespread transmission, but it has raised some concerns among business groups and sparked questions about its necessity.

Many people have become infected but are not falling severely ill and ICUs are less crowded than in previous waves. Deaths have also dramatically increased but remain far below the last wave.

The availability of vaccines and treatments and changes with the virus itself are also helping. But the soaring rate of both cases and coronavirus-positive hospitalizations worries local public health officials.

More top coronavirus headlines

  • In Los Angeles County and many other jurisdictions, there is no way for people to report the results from store-bought home tests.
  • Another day, another variant. COVID-19 infection rates are rising to the point where returning to mask mandates indoors would be wise, writes Times editorial writer Karin Klein.
  • The World Health Organization said coronavirus cases have tripled across Europe in the last six weeks and hospitalization rates have doubled.

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


The new 6th Street bridge’s baptism by L.A.

The official opening party for the 6th Street Viaduct ended last week, but the bridge is now getting another inauguration, one from the citizens of Los Angeles.

Skateboarders, cruisers, taggers, street racers, scooter ditchers, bicyclists, tourists and plain old commuters are taking it from here.

The half-billion-dollar bridge is out of the lab and ready for the ecosystem to make its imprint — most visibly in the form of curlicue skid marks from drivers doing doughnuts and burnouts on its deck.

Russia pounded Ukraine as Putin got Iran’s backing

Russian missiles struck cities and villages in eastern and southern Ukraine, hitting homes, a school and a community center as Russian President Vladimir Putin won strong support from Iran for his country’s military operation.


Putin visited Tehran, where Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the West opposed an “independent and strong” Russia. Khamenei said if Russia hadn’t sent troops into Ukraine, it would have faced an attack from NATO later, echoing Putin’s own rhetoric and reflecting increasingly close ties between Moscow and Tehran as they both face severe Western sanctions.

Our daily news podcast

If you’re a fan of this newsletter, you’ll love our daily podcast “The Times,” hosted every weekday by columnist Gustavo Arellano, along with reporters from across our newsroom. Go beyond the headlines. Download and listen on our App, subscribe on Apple Podcasts and follow on Spotify.


A man sits in a dark tunnel with trash underneath a hole filled with sunlight
The storm drain he called home. Juan Luis Gonzalez-Castillo shows the space below a manhole cover where he lived. ICYMI, read about L.A.’s failed promise to develop this Watts parcel.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)


A judge has temporarily barred Herb Wesson from performing City Council duties. The move hands a victory to a civil rights group and allies of Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who was suspended after being indicted by federal prosecutors last fall. Wesson, who already served the maximum of three terms on the council, was appointed as a temporary replacement by the council this year.

June prices show the SoCal housing market is cooling. The data, released Tuesday by DQNews, mark the first month since January that Southern California’s ultra-competitive housing market saw a decline in the median home price.

Los Angeles County expands its monkeypox vaccine eligibility, but the stockpile is still ‘extremely limited.’ The outbreak in Los Angeles County continues to spread primarily among men who have sex with men and transgender people, mirroring how the virus is spreading in other cities and worldwide — though anyone can become infected.


Support our journalism

Subscribe to the Los Angeles Times.


A transformer exploded at Hoover Dam, prompting an emergency response. The transformer caught fire at the dam about 10 a.m., the Bureau of Reclamation said on Twitter. No injuries were reported among visitors or employees, and the small blaze was extinguished by a fire brigade run by the bureau.

The U.K. recorded its hottest day ever as a heat wave scorched Europe. On Tuesday, the country provisionally logged a temperature of nearly 104.4 degrees at London’s Heathrow Airport, breaking a record set just three years ago. When few homes have air conditioning and infrastructure such as railways were built two centuries ago, the sticky and hot air has caused havoc.

Meanwhile, fires raged in Europe. Investigators probing the suspected deliberate lighting of what has become a raging wildfire in southwest France detained a man for questioning, as firefighters and water-bombing planes fought ferocious flames there and in other parts of Europe affected by extreme heat.


TV rarely gets childbirth right. After Roe, the gory truth matters more than ever. “This Is Going to Hurt,” a darkly comic TV series about the obstetrics and gynecology ward of a London hospital, features some of the most visceral depictions of labor, pregnancy and reproductive health emergencies ever to grace the small screen. And it should be required viewing.

Move over, awards shows. Secret weddings are Hollywood’s new favorite ceremonies. Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck made headlines this week for their hush-hush Las Vegas ceremony, but they weren’t the only celebrities to have secret unions in July.


Netflix loses nearly 1 million subscribers, but was helped by ‘Stranger Things.’ The streamer said Tuesday that it lost 970,000 subscribers in the quarter, marking the second consecutive quarter of subscriber declines. Nonetheless, the drop was not as bad as the 2 million cancellations Netflix had forecast.


A Korean BBQ restaurant now has a union. Supermarkets may be next. Labor experts and Asian American community leaders say the Genwa union can serve as a model for organizing immigrant workers, who may be unaware of their rights, afraid to speak up or hampered by language and cultural barriers.

Judge sets October trial for Musk-Twitter takeover dispute. Elon Musk lost a fight to delay Twitter’s lawsuit against him Tuesday as a Delaware judge set an October trial, citing the “cloud of uncertainty” over the social media company after the billionaire backed out of a deal to buy it.


Progressive Democrats can’t stop criticizing the Joes. The wall-to-wall coverage of progressive carping about President Biden has been interrupted by reruns of progressive carping about West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III. The critics have Manchin’s motivations wrong, writes columnist Jonah Goldberg: “I’m fairly confident that the West Virginia senator doesn’t want to be remembered as the man who doomed humanity.”

Editorial: Don’t leave 211 callers hanging. Los Angeles County supervisors are preparing to turn the operation and management of a key resource information service over to a firm that took on a similar job for the state Employment Development Department early in the pandemic, when business closures and layoffs were rampant — and did it poorly.

Free online games

Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at



Clayton Kershaw makes the most of his All-Star moment on a night dedicated to Dodgers greats. In a game celebrating stars past and present, it was the man at the intersection of the two who shined brightest Tuesday night.

NBA player Miles Bridges was charged with domestic violence and child abuse. Bridges, 24, was charged with two counts of child abuse and one count of domestic violence for attacking his girlfriend, stemming from an incident in late June, according to a statement from the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

The Sparks’ Brittney Sykes honors Brittney Griner by delivering shoes to those in need. It’s what Griner used to do in Phoenix for her Heart and Sole Shoe Drive before she was detained by Russian officials in February while traveling during the WNBA offseason to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg, an elite basketball club.


A hiker walks by a post with a long list of destination markers.
A hiker on the Pacific Crest Trail passes through Reds Meadow Valley near Mammoth Lakes.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Why are so many people hiking this rustic valley in Mammoth’s shadow? For any California traveler interested in Sierra wilderness or hiker psychology, it’s hard to imagine a more fruitful summer stop than Reds Meadow Valley, about 7,500 feet above sea level and 30 to 60 minutes by shuttle bus from the chairlifts and commotion of Mammoth Mountain.

The memoir “Wild,” which chronicled Cheryl Strayed’s struggle to hike the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, helped set off a virtual stampede of long-distance backpackers through California’s high country that continues today. And there are hundreds of day trippers showing up too. Whatever your hiking goals, here’s what to know, from Times travel writer Christopher Reynolds.



A newspaper clipping shows 1930s-era cars lined up at gas pumps with workers in white pumping gas.
June 19, 1934: Cars lined up at the pumps as businesses reopened after the labor action in San Francisco.
(Los Angeles Times)

Eighty-eight years ago today, on July 20, 1934, the San Francisco General Strike ended. It was part of a strike begun in May that was organized by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and led to dockworkers, teamsters and seamen walking off the job at major ports along the entire West Coast.

In San Francisco, the general strike followed a July 5 incident that came to be known as Bloody Thursday, when police charged a picket line in the city and two union members were shot and killed and scores injured. The ensuing job action involved more than 100,000 workers and brought the city to a halt.

The Times reported on July 19, 1934: “San Francisco’s great general strike, for the first twenty-four hours perhaps the most effective labor rebellion in history, was crumbling rapidly tonight. The state of siege was almost over. All union restaurants had reopened. The gasoline famine was finished. … The wholesale produce markets turned in a matter of hours from a deserted area patrolled by soldiers to a bedlam of activity as food and buyers arrived simultaneously.”

In the aftermath of the strike, a Times report said in 1986, “the union won recognition from employers, a 5-cent-an-hour raise and a 30-hour week. The latter ... was a vast improvement over existing conditions.”

We appreciate that you took the time to read Today’s Headlines! Comments or ideas? Feel free to drop us a note at