Fire season. A storm that worked its way up the state this week triggered nearly 29-thousand lightning strikes and sparked up to 150 wildfires. Most of those fires have been put out – but an earlier blaze burning on the western edge of Yosemite is now threatening thousands of homes.
Cal Fire says it has responded to more than 4,700 fires since January. That’s about 40 percent more than the average for an entire calendar year. This week’s unusual summer storm unleashed lightning strikes that sparked wildfires in areas ranging from Kern County to north of San Francisco.
The biggest concern for state fire officials right now is a 16,000-acre blaze burning in the Stanislaus National Forest west of Yosemite. The Rim Fire, as it’s being called, is threatening 2,o00 structures and has spurred evacuations of recreational areas. It’s just five percent contained. Yosemite is open, but smoke has wafted over parts of the National Park and forced the closure of westbound traffic on Highway 120, one of the park’s main exits.
The extreme fire season is not just a California problem. Federal officials say more than 40 large blazes are burning unchecked between Arizona and Alaska. The combined cost of fighting this year’s western wildfires already exceeds $1 billion. L.A. Times, AP
DWP deal. L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson says a deal with the main union representing DWP workers is “really close” after the union agreed to accept a nearly 50 percent reduction in a scheduled raise. Mayor Eric Garcetti had said he would not support an earlier deal reached between city negotiators and DWP workers that called for a pay hike of up to four percent in 2016. Under a new proposal hashed out behind closed doors yesterday, the pay increase would be reduced to about two percent. Entry level pay would also be reduced for dozens of job categories and DWP workers would have to make some pension concessions. Earlier this week, Garcetti launched an online petition asking L.A. residents to back his push for changes at the DWP. L.A. Daily News
Filner’s fate. Could a resignation be in the works? The fate of embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is being worked out during confidential negotiations that are entering their third day this morning. The talks are being mediated by former federal Judge Lawrence Irving. They involve Filner, the city council president, a city councilman and L.A. lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents a former Filner spokeswoman who’s suing the mayor and the city. Filner has repeatedly refused to resign even as the number of women accusing him of sexual harassment has soared. An 18th woman is planning to a hold a news conference today to levy allegations against the 10-term former Congressman. Time
Vulnerable apartments. L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge wants to compile a list of apartment buildings that could be vulnerable to collapse in an earthquake. LaBonge says the city should catalog buildings with at least two stories and five units that were built before 1978. His proposal comes four months after San Francisco enacted a new law forcing apartment owners to reinforce thousands of buildings in that city. Of particular concern are so-called “soft story” buildings – wood frame structures in which the first story may not support the weight of the upper floors during a temblor. About 200 of those buildings collapsed in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, including the Northridge Meadows complex, where 16 people died. L.A. Times
Hastings report. The L.A. County coroner’s report is out on the death of rising-star journalist Michael Hastings, who died when his car crashed and burst into flames on Highland Avenue in the early morning hours of June 18th. The report says Hastings had traces of drugs in his system consistent with the possible use of methamphetamine. Hastings, who was 33, is best known for a Rolling Stones article that exposed Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his staff’s disdain for civilian leadership in Washington, including President Obama. McChrystal was subsequently fired. Before Hastings death, relatives were reportedly trying to convince him to seek substance abuse treatment. NBC News