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Today’s Headlines: Deadly McKinney fire is destroying a lifetime of memories

Harlene Schwander shows some of the family photos she was able to grab before the McKinney fire destroyed her home
Harlene Schwander shows some of the family photos she was able to grab before the McKinney fire destroyed her home in Weed, Calif. She and BJ Janowicz, left, are staying at the Red Cross evacuation shelter.
(Haley Smith / Los Angeles Times)

By Elvia Limón, Laura Blasey and Amy Hubbard

Hello, it’s Tuesday, Aug. 2, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Deadly McKinney fire levels homes

For residents across Siskiyou County, it was an anxious waiting game as the McKinney fire burned out of control, destroying an unknown number of homes and spreading through more than 55,000 acres, making it the largest fire so far this year in California. Authorities said two people were found dead inside a car in the fire zone, though no other details were available.

About 650 firefighters battling the blaze were contending with triple-digit heat and possible thunderstorms that could set off dangerous conditions. About 10 other smaller fires were burning in Klamath National Forest.

The fire started about 2:38 p.m. Friday near Highway 96 and McKinney Creek Road southwest of the Klamath River, officials said. The cause is under investigation. It grew explosively and now threatens several rural communities.

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U.S. operation kills Al Qaeda leader

President Biden said Al Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri, a key plotter of the Sept. 11 attacks, was killed in a CIA drone strike he ordered targeting the terrorist leader in Afghanistan.

One of the world’s most wanted terrorists, Zawahiri helped oversee the 2001 attacks on New York and the Pentagon, working closely with former Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, and had led the group over the last decade since Bin Laden’s death.

More politics

  • Vice President Kamala Harris said the White House is making more than $1 billion available to states to address extreme heat and flooding exacerbated by climate change.
  • Candidates denying the 2020 election results are running for office in several states, though Republican primary voters have split on whether to put election skeptics on the November ballot.
  • Only 13% of Democrats approve of the work of the Supreme Court, compared with 74% of Republicans.

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

All that divides L.A. converges on the 6th Street Viaduct

In its short life, the 6th Street Viaduct has become so much to so many, depending on their point of view.

Soaring civic landmark or roadway to gentrification. Altar to the city’s car-culture or Insta playground for general mayhem and lawlessness. Panoramic promenade for Boyle Heights or glaring reminder of the lack of public space there and in so much of the city.

Architectural wonder or symbol of everything wrong with Los Angeles.

Californians with criminal records still face housing barriers

As Gov. Gavin Newsom has pushed criminal justice reform, housing for those with criminal records often remains out of reach, compounding the state’s homelessness crisis.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced plans this year to reduce barriers to housing for people with criminal records, and similar efforts are underway in California. A 2020 state law banned landlords from discriminating against tenants who use a housing voucher to pay their rent, often one of the only options available for people who’ve left incarceration.

But advocates across California say not nearly enough is being done to stem the flow of formerly incarcerated Californians onto the streets.

Making the world’s tallest tree invisible

It sounds hard to hide the tallest tree in the world. But that’s exactly what officials at California’s Redwood National Park have been trying to do since 2006.

Now, the 380-foot-tall redwood tree is officially off-limits. In a statement last week, the park wrote that any visitors caught near it could face six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

For 16 years, the park refused to publish the location of the tree in order to protect it. They feared that too many visitors to the site could damage it and the delicate ecology of its surrounding slopes.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

A man hugs a woman as she sits on a bed. She wears a crown of flowers.
Rudy Sanzana, a friend of more than 30 years, hugs Gabriella Walsh before she dies through medical aid in Santa Paula.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Making the decision to die — and celebrate life — on her own terms. When she was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, Gabriella Walsh didn’t want to extend her life, but to prioritize the quality of the time she had left. The conversations were uncomfortable, but Gabriella was resolute. California’s death-with-dignity law allows some terminally ill patients to request drugs to end their lives. The decision gave her a profound peace — a final freedom that she hoped would one day be afforded to people in every state.

CALIFORNIA

At least 60 Pacific Crest Trail hikers were rescued from the McKinney fire. Dozens of people were rescued Saturday afternoon on the California side of the trail at Red Buttes Wilderness, officials said. The hikers were not necessarily in immediate danger, but people on foot aren’t able to flee as easily. Separately, authorities said two people were found dead inside a car in the fire zone, as we reported above.

Mudslides, rainfall and trapped motorists as an intense monsoonal storm hits California. Some parts of the state saw heavy rainfall over the last few days, while others endured flash floods and debris flows. Other areas saw little of either, but endured a hot, sticky mess of high humidity, which is expected to break off over the next few days but will stubbornly return by the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

A skid row homeless shelter is pleading for donations of water amid the heat. “Water isn’t a privilege; it’s mandatory,” said Georgia Berkovich, director of public affairs for Midnight Mission. “And even more so now, we’re seeing more and more people coming for water, and we’re seeing more heat-related illnesses on skid row.

Californians are increasingly searching for limited monkeypox vaccines. California cities — including Los Angeles, Palm Springs and San Francisco — are leading the nation in online searches for monkeypox vaccines, underscoring the growing challenge of finding and accessing the limited doses as cases of the rare virus continue to rise.

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NATION-WORLD

Across the U.S., fewer kids are enrolling in public schools. The pandemic accelerated enrollment declines in many districts across cities like Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Boston as families switched to homeschooling, charter schools and other options. Some students moved away or vanished from school rolls for unknown reasons, and educators worry that coming years will bring tighter budgets.

The first Jan. 6 rioter to stand trial received a sentence of more than seven years in prison. A Texas man convicted of storming the U.S. Capitol with a holstered handgun, helmet and body armor was sentenced to 87 months in prison, the longest sentence imposed so far among hundreds of Capitol riot cases. Prosecutors said he told fellow members of the Texas Three Percenters militia group that he planned to drag House Speaker Nancy Pelosi out of the Capitol building by her ankles.

Samuel Sandoval, one of the last World War II-era Navajo code talkers, has died at age 98. The code talkers transmitted messages during the war using a code based on their native language. Hundreds were recruited from the vast Navajo Nation to serve with the U.S. Marine Corps during the war and only three are still alive today.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Beyoncé vowed to change a “Renaissance” lyric amid backlash from the disability community. In a statement, a representative for the Grammy winner confirmed she would change the words to “Heated,” a track from her seventh studio album. The backlash ensued about a month after Lizzo apologized for using the same slur in a song, which she promptly tweaked.

Pat Carroll, Emmy winner and voice of Ursula in “The Little Mermaid,” has died at age 95. In the 1950s and ’60s, Carroll found her stride in television, but a new generation came to know and love her voice in 1989, when her throaty rendition of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” made her one of Disney’s most memorable villains.

This casting director wants to elevate the art of acting for video games. Julia Bianco Schoeffling has seen too many pros approach the video game medium without proper preparation. That’s one reason she wrote “The Art and Business of Acting for Video Games.” When our Todd Martens went to interview her about the new book, he also put on “mocap” wear and received a crash course in motion-capture acting.

BUSINESS

John Leguizamo has a plan to grow the Latinx presence in entertainment. Leguizamo’s New York-based NGL Collective has merged with L.A.-based mitu, in a deal worth more than $60 million, creating one of the largest Latinx digital media companies.

U.S. manufacturing expands at the slowest pace in two years. The Institute for Supply Management’s gauge of factory activity eased to 52.8, the lowest level since June 2020, from 53 a month earlier, according to recently released data.

OPINION

Why make the grizzly bear California’s state animal — after they’re all gone? In 1953, the state elevated the California grizzly to a place of honor just three decades after wiping it out entirely. Sometimes you have to marvel at the audacity of humans, at the tolerance for irony and cognitive dissonance, writes columnist Nicholas Goldberg.

What happens when TikTok is your main source of news and information? These platforms showcase short videos, which is great for a new dance move or a fun meme. But they can be just as effective in spreading videos conveying misinformation and conspiracy theories. Just because Gen Z grew up with social media doesn’t mean they know how to evaluate the information they find there.

Free online games

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SPORTS

Why Brandon Staley sees ‘a good football’ team in the Chargers’ first practice in pads. Asked to explain that thought, he said: “Just the style of play. The pace. The tempo. The contact. Making sure that you’re keeping each other safe. You’re going fierce, but you’re keeping each other safe.”

The Angels won’t be trading Shohei Ohtani this season. The 28-year-old two-way player has been nothing short of stellar. But the Angels’ struggles and Ohtani’s desire to play in the postseason leave the team in a bind since he could leave after next season with the Angels getting nothing in return.

Rams hurting: Matthew Stafford has more elbow pain; Van Jefferson needs knee surgery. Jefferson will have knee surgery, putting his status for the Sept. 8 opener against the Buffalo Bills “up in the air,” and the Rams took steps to ensure that Stafford is ready to play in that game without lingering pain in his right arm, coach Sean McVay said.

ONLY IN L.A.

Two people in silhouette walk along a shady trail.
A pair of hikers at Corriganville Park.
(Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)

Twenty shady spots where you can beat the heat right now. On the hottest of summer days, trees can help cool our homes and streets and shelter us from ultraviolet rays. They can also be magical to look at, too. And there are plenty of places in L.A. to find them.

The California Botanic Garden considers itself an 86-acre living museum, the state’s largest collection of native plants. Meanwhile, the Chavez Ravine Arboretum — the oldest arboretum in Los Angeles — has plenty of room to escape the heat, with approximately 140 types of trees from all over the world. Here are 18 more parks and public gardens to visit.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Closeup of a man with gray hair and wearing a suit and tie.
Sept. 15, 1982: Johnny Carson during a taping of “The Tonight Show.”
(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

Seventy-three years ago this week, on Aug. 1, 1949, legendary “Tonight Show” host Johnny Carson got his start with a 45-minute morning talk and radio show on station WOW in Omaha, Neb.

When a TV station was launched a few months later, the recent University of Nebraska grad had the morning radio show as well as an afternoon TV show on WOW-TV. On a Christmas Day 1950 broadcast, the 24-year-old addressed viewers, “A lot of you people are probably watching today’s show for the first time with your new Christmas television sets, and we hope this program won’t let you down, and frankly we know it will.”

Carson was there about two years before heading to California and his eventual home in a studio in beautiful downtown Burbank. He hosted “The Tonight Show” for three decades. As The Times related in his 2005 obituary, when Carson announced his retirement in 1991, comedian Bob Hope said it was “sort of like a head falling off Mt. Rushmore.”

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


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