In California: Fires blaze in the OC; wear a mask while cheering the Dodgers

Rebecca Plevin, USA TODAY
·4 min read

Also: Trade groups and a high desert town are suing to block protections granted to the western Joshua tree. And the San Francisco Ballet goes virtual!

Start the countdown, because Election Day is just one week away! I'm Rebecca Plevin, immigration reporter for The Desert Sun, here with the California news you need to get through this critical time. I'd recommend entering this final stretch by learning more about who's spending the most to influence your vote for California's Legislature.

SoCal fires lead to the nation’s worst air quality

Wind-driven wildfires continue to burn in Southern California. The Silverado Fire has forced more than 70,000 Orange County residents to flee their homes. It has also severely injured two firefighters. The fire had blackened 11,200 acres by Tuesday morning and was 5% contained. Southern California Edison is investigating whether its electrical equipment sparked the blaze.

And the Blue Ridge Fire, which broke out in Riverside County and quickly spread to Orange County, had charred more than 15,000 acres as of midday Tuesday and was 0% contained. Ten homes were damaged and 8,700 homes were under evacuation orders.

The fires have generated the worst air quality in the nation, according to the government's air quality monitoring agency, the L.A. Times reports. The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a windblown dust and ash advisory in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, warning that strong gusts could spread hazardous particulate matter from recent wildfires.

Wear a mask while cheering for the Dodgers

Game 2: Dodgers fans in the stands.
Game 2: Dodgers fans in the stands.

And now a word of caution for all the Dodgers fans out there: The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is urging people to protect themselves and others against COVID-19 while watching Game 6 of the World Series tonight and, if the Dodgers lose, Game 7 tomorrow in Arlington, Texas.

The health department said it's "highly likely" that watch parties celebrating the L.A. Lakers' clinching of the NBA Finals contributed to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the county, and it doesn't want to see another sports-related spike several weeks from now.

“As fans continue to watch and celebrate the mighty L.A. sports teams, we are mindful that if individuals are not adhering to the health officer order requirements of distancing, infection control and masking, cases will continue to rise which, unfortunately, not only leads to increased illness and deaths, but also slows down our recovery journey,’’ the health department said in a statement provided to USA TODAY Sports.

The warning comes as the average number of new daily COVID-19 infections per 100,000 residents is climbing in four Southern California counties: Imperial, San Bernardino, Riverside and Los Angeles, the L.A. Times reported.

The fight over Joshua trees continues

A Joshua tree is silhouetted by the moon as a plane flies overhead at Joshua Tree National Park early morning on Monday, August 11, 2008 in Joshua Tree.
A Joshua tree is silhouetted by the moon as a plane flies overhead at Joshua Tree National Park early morning on Monday, August 11, 2008 in Joshua Tree.

A month after the California Fish and Game Commission voted to make western Joshua trees a candidate for listing as a threatened species, several trade groups and a high desert town are suing to block the protections granted to the Mojave Desert's iconic plant.

The lawsuit is not challenging the merits of whether Joshua trees should be protected. Rather, it argues that the original petition to protect the species did not meet minimum requirements outlined under the law.

Still, you might be wondering, what's the problem with protecting beloved Joshua Trees? The Desert Sun reports that if western Joshua trees are ultimately listed as threatened, it will be more difficult to obtain permits for projects that will kill the plants to clear land.

Cultural events adapt to these crazy times

Sugar skulls are iconic symbols of Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, celebrations. They are made of compressed sugar with metallic sequins for eyes and colorful icing for hair.
Sugar skulls are iconic symbols of Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, celebrations. They are made of compressed sugar with metallic sequins for eyes and colorful icing for hair.

Many traditional, in-person Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, celebrations have been canceled or moved online this year because of COVID-19. LAist has this round-up of opportunities to safely remember and celebrate the dearly departed.

And the San Francisco Ballet will be streaming its 2021 season, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. While disappointing for people who love seeing live performances, it's an opportunity for dance aficionados who live outside the city (me!) to see world-class performances, including several world premieres that have been re-imagined for video.

In California is a roundup of news from across the USA TODAY Network newsrooms. Also contributing: CalMatters, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and LAist.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fires blaze in Southern California; wear a mask while cheering the Dodgers