Fueled by Santa Ana winds, the intensity of this week’s fires made it very hard for firefighters to do anything to stop them. On Tuesday evening there were seven active fires in Southern California, according to Calfire. The Thomas fire, the largest, burned 35,000 acres in the first 12 hours alone. By Tuesday night it had spread to more than 50,000 acres. The winds are forecast to continue into the weekend and will not peak until Thursday, according to Chief Berlant.
Chief Berlant, who is the head of Calfire’s prevention efforts, says it is crucial for the state to consider fire safety when planning roads and housing developments. As one example, building codes were changed a decade ago to make roofs more likely to withstand embers falling on them.
“We know we have a changing climate and we have to adapt to it,” Chief Berlant said. “Our homes and our communities need to be more resilient to wildfires.”
The Times has reporters on the ground covering the fires. Follow developments today here.
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• Scenes of devastation from the wildfires. [The New York Times] Aerial photos. [Mashable]
• California could be hit with significantly more dangerous and more frequent droughts in the near future as changes in weather patterns triggered by global warming block rainfall from reaching the state. [Los Angeles Times]
• Arrests of people trying to cross illegally into the U.S. from Mexico plunged to the lowest level since 1971 but immigration arrests in the interior of the country increased by 25 percent. [KQED]
• Days after an acquittal in the murder trial of Kathryn Steinle, federal prosecutors charged Jose Ines Garcia Zarate of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and being an immigrant in the country illegally in possession of a firearm and ammunition. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for each charge. [KQED]
• Shervin Pishevar is taking a leave of absence from his venture capital firm and the boards of several companies he sits on amid reports that he sexually harassed or assaulted five women. [The New York Times]
• Amid spiraling housing costs, Berkeley Unified School District is considering developing low-rent housing for teachers. [Berkeleyside]
• San Francisco is the first U.S. city to base its parking rates on driver demand citywide. Hourly rates will vary by time of day and block by block. [San Francisco Chronicle]
• Oakland strike: The city is offering municipal employees a wage increases of 4 percent and another possible 2 percent tied to future tax revenue projections. Mayor Libby Schaaf called the strike unlawful. [East Bay Times]
• San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday to put tough restrictions on sidewalk robots. Supervisor Malia Cohen is worried about stifling innovation. Robots, she said, might be able to pick up needles left by intravenous drug users. [San Francisco Examiner]
• Christmas tree prices have spiked this year as supply is down. The number of growers in the Pacific Northwest Christmas tree Association dropped from 524 members in 2009 to 275 members this year. [The Orange County Register]
• Jodi Kantor, Emily Steel and Megan Twohey, Times investigative reporters who broke stories about Harvey Weinstein and Bill O’Reilly, discussed what it was like behind the scenes of reporting process. They were joined by the actress Ashley Judd, whose own story of harassment by Mr. Weinstein helped spark the current #MeToo Moment. [Video: The New York Times]
And Finally …
It’s approaching finals week at the University of California, Berkeley, a time of all-around stress and deadlines before the winter break.
Bring in the emotional support animals.
Ana Mancia, a third-year student studying business, organized a parade of llamas to the campus on Monday.
“We really wanted to bring something unusual,” she said.
Llamas have been coming to campus for several years, including during the Suicide Prevention Walk, an annual event at Berkeley and other universities.
“These are therapy llamas,” Ms. Mancia said.
Last week a group brought puppies to campus. On Monday, students flocked to the llamas to pet the animals and take selfies.
“We really wanted to bring an animal that would be very calm with students, that would help them with their mental health,” Ms. Mancia said. “They are also just really cute.”
California Today goes live at 6 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.
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