(Read the latest updates on the wildfires burning across California.)
On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed a beleaguered, weary state. He sounded not a little weary himself as he rattled off alarming statistics about the number of lightning strikes over the past three days (almost 11,000) — any one of which could have ignited a catastrophic blaze, particularly during a record-setting heat wave.
They’ve sparked at least 367 active fires across the state, 23 of which are considered major, he said.
He highlighted several complexes of lightning-sparked fires that have sent residents fleeing from Northern California communities that have been hammered by wildfires and power outages in recent years, including the CZU August Lightning Complex, the LNU Lightning Complex and the Carmel fire — none of which were at all contained as of his news conference.
(Read more about how the state has prepared for wildfires in a pandemic.)
Still, Mr. Newsom emphasized that California is painfully familiar with the challenges of a busy wildfire season, and officials have been bracing for months.
“This is what the state does,” he said.
Mr. Newsom added that he expected a flex alert on Monday to be the last in the immediate future.
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How many things can go wrong at once? Here’s our full story on everything that has made August in California a horrific month. (The New York Times)
Track the biggest fires burning across the state with this map. (The San Francisco Chronicle)
A firefighting helicopter crashed near Coalinga, killing the pilot, on Wednesday morning. (The Fresno Bee)
If you missed it, the rolling blackouts over the weekend stumped experts, who said that the state had plenty of power available and that the power shut-offs weren’t necessary. (The New York Times)
Learn about the inmate fire crews who battle blazes for between $2 and $5 a day, plus $1 per hour — and how they’ve been hit hard in the pandemic. (The Sacramento Bee)
Here’s what to pack in your go-bag — with the pandemic in mind. (KQED)
See photos of the fires. (The New York Times)
Find more ongoing coverage from:
Now, a brief update on the pandemic:
The governor delivered encouraging news on Wednesday: Hospitalizations and new cases declined, he said. And the statewide positivity rate had decreased to 6.6 percent over the past two weeks.
Likewise, The Los Angeles Times reported that Los Angeles County public health officials had announced promising statistics.
San Diego and Placer Counties were officially taken off the state’s monitoring list, meaning their outbreaks had improved.
(Track coronavirus cases by California county with our map.)
Mr. Newsom hinted that he’d lay out “new, more dynamic” criteria for reopening in the coming days.
At the same time, however, he emphasized that gains could easily be lost. And the state is preparing, he said, for a possible second wave in the fall.
“We are keeping our eyes squarely on mitigating the spread of Covid-19,” he said.
Help us understand what’s happening in your community
The fires this year are so widespread and are burning at just about the worst time possible: In the middle of a pandemic.
If you’re safe and feel comfortable sharing, we’d like to hear from you about whether you’ve been forced to evacuate or if you’ve left your home in anticipation of an evacuation order.
We’d like to hear about where you are now, and if your evacuation plans have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Would you stay with family members or friends? Do you have health care concerns?
Please email us at [email protected]. We may reach out to talk more.
Here’s what else to read today
“There is no way she is the vice president candidate without having made trade-offs.” Women of color across the country see Senator Kamala Harris’s vice-presidential nomination as a win. But it’s more complicated than that. (The New York Times)
What would Doug Emhoff be like as the first second gentleman? (He’s a lawyer who went to Cal State Northridge and the University of Southern California.) (The New York Times)
Also, Ms. Harris spoke at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night.
California made several appearances, with a young climate activist spurred by the Camp Fire, Billie Eilish and a brief story about All Day Baby, a Silver Lake restaurant, with Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Catch up on The Times’s coverage here.
State lawmakers, advocates and tenants all want desperately to avoid an eviction cliff. But they have some questions to answer before they can strike a deal. (CalMatters)
New video appears to show an Alameda County sheriff’s deputy initially shoving Masai Ujiri, the Toronto Raptors president, as he made his way toward the court after his team beat the Golden State Warriors, ending last year’s NBA Championship. The deputy has claimed that Mr. Ujiri struck the deputy in the face. (East Bay Times)
Apple is now worth $2 trillion, doubling its value in just the last two years. (The New York Times)
Los Angeles made good on its promise to cut power and water to houses where people were hosting large parties. On Wednesday, the city turned off power at a Hollywood Hills mansion rented by three TikTok stars. (The New York Times)
#FreeBritney? Britney Spears is seeking substantial changes to the court-approved conservatorship that she’s lived under in California since 2008. (The New York Times)
And in less upsetting news: Cher said she called two post offices in Malibu offering to volunteer for the United States Postal Service. (Cher)
California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: [email protected]. Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read every edition online here.
Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, went to school at U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter, @jillcowan.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.