Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday’s Briefing: Firefighters Make Progress as Death Toll Hits 31; Bay Area Air Pollution Rivals Beijing

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 10:19 AM

click to enlarge tubbs_fire_coffey_park.jpg

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Oct. 13, 2017:

1. Firefighters continued to make progress last night on the massive North Bay fires, gaining 25 percent containment on the deadliest blaze — the Tubbs Fire in Sonoma County — and 27 percent containment on the largest one — the Atlas Fire in Napa County, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. But the death toll from the NorCal fires has climbed to 31 and is expected to rise as law enforcement officials comb through the debris with cadaver dogs. In all, the fires have destroyed about 3,000 homes and businesses and burned more than 200,000 acres. Fire crews are also concerned about this weekend because winds are expected to pick up tonight.

2. Air quality in the Bay Area due to the fires is so bad — the worst on record — this week that it rivals the infamously polluted Beijing, reports Erin Allday of the San Francisco Chronicle. Residents from around the region are reporting being sickened by the pollution, and many school districts are again closed today due to the bad air. In addition, numerous outdoor events scheduled for this weekend have been canceled or postponed.

3. Democratic state Senate President Kevin León is expected to launch a challenge next week to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., reports Christopher Cadelago of the Sacramento Bee$. And the liberal de León may be joined in the 2018 race by billionaire progressive Tom Steyer. California liberals have become increasingly frustrated over the years with the moderate Feinstein.

4. Employees of small businesses will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to take care of a newborn as of Jan. 1, under a bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, the Sacramento Bee$ reports. The new law will apply to about 2.8 million small businesses in California that employ between 20 and 49 workers. Companies that employ more than 50 people already must provide the 12-week-parental-leave benefit.

5. President Trump is continuing his effort to dismantle Obamacare, saying today that he will stop payment on health-care subsidies that help pay out-of-pocket costs of low-income people, The New York Times$ reports. The move could unravel the nation’s insurance markets and cause health care insurance premiums to soar.

6. And the Alameda Gold Coast Bistro and Bar, on Park Street at Clement Avenue, plans to close this Sunday after 25 years in business, reports Peter Hegarty of the East Bay Times$. The restaurants owners say they lost their lease and are being evicted.

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