Plus: Ruth Bader Ginsburg will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol, the LAPD is using controversial facial recognition technology, and San Diego State experiences a back-to-school COVID outbreak.
I'm Winston Gieseke, philanthropy and special sections editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs. As we start off this week in California news, let's check in on the wildfires ravaging our state.
In California brings you top Golden State stories and commentary from across the USA TODAY Network and beyond. Get it free, straight to your inbox.
Wildfire updates from South to North
Bobcat Fire: One of Los Angeles County’s largest blazes ever, the Bobcat Fire, has grown to more than 105,000 acres — and remains at 15% containment, the U.S. Forest Service said. The L.A. Times reports that the historic Mt. Wilson Observatory is again threatened.
“Just when I thought the danger was over — it wasn’t,” Thomas Meneghi, the observatory’s executive director, told the paper Monday. “As I was leaving [Sunday], eight more strike units were rumbling up the road.”
Firefighters have already used half of a 530,000-gallon water tank on the observatory grounds in their nearly weeklong battle against the blaze, Meneghi said. Crews are working to refill the tank and keep water pressure strong.
Snow Fire: Containment expected Oct. 1. Authorities said Monday that the Snow Fire burning northwest of Palm Springs is currently 52% contained and is expected to be fully contained by Oct. 1. The fire has blackened 6,013 acres since being sparked by a vehicle fire Thursday. No injuries or damage to structures have been reported.
As of Monday afternoon, San Bernardino County's El Dorado Fire, which claimed the life of a firefighter last week, has burned 22,576 acres and 59% of its perimeter was contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Meanwhile, in Central California, the SQF Complex Fire in the Tulare County mountains grew to 138,000 acres, and while containment increased to 18% Monday morning, firefighters say the battle is far from over and full containment is, at a minimum, likely weeks away.
The firefight remains most active in the community of Ponderosa, where crews have worked around the clock to build fire lines after gusty winds caused the wildfire to roar back to life last week.
On Sunday, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux downgraded evacuation orders to advisories for parts of Three Rivers, the most heavily populated community affected by the fire so far. Sequoia National Park also remains fully closed to the public, though park officials say they are evaluating the situation daily.
What we know Monday about North State wildfires: Fire crews continued their work Monday to protect homes in the northern part of the August Complex and prevent flames from crossing Highway 36.
Currently burning in Tehama, Trinity, Mendocino, Humboldt, Lake and Glenn counties, the 846,732-acre August Complex ranks as the largest fire in California history due to its merging of the Elkhorn, Hopkins, Willow, Doe and Vinegar fires, among others.
Containment was 34% Monday, the same as Sunday. Evacuation warnings cover Mad River, Hettenshaw Valley, Zenia, Kettenpom and the north area of Ruth Lake.
Newsom vows unemployment backlog will be ‘substantially addressed’
It became clear Saturday night just how far behind California is in dealing with its unemployment claims: The Employment Development Department’s backlog of unemployment insurance claims is currently growing at a rate of 10,000 per day, Deadline reported, as a result of COVID-19 and suspected fraud.
In one egregious example, more than 20 inmates in the San Mateo County jail reportedly filed fraudulent claims that resulted in payments of at least $250,000.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said the computers and software that help the system run are 30 years old and "need to be strewn to the waste bin of history." He said Monday that action was being taken immediately, and the reset process was expected to be complete by Oct. 5. Proposed actions include:
the implementation of a new automatic ID system, which Newsom said would "substantially eliminate fraud"
process improvements, including redeploying more experienced staff in senior roles
providing people information in an easily accessible electronic fashion
Newsom said he expected to have "substantially addressed” the backlog within 90 to 100 days.
In the meantime, people who want to file new unemployment claims need to wait two weeks. EDD said on Twitter: "The UI claims support line will be temporarily unavailable from September 20 to October 4, 2020. During this time, we'll be working hard to process claims and enhance our systems to pay customers sooner by verifying identities in an easier, faster way."
‘Schitt's Creek’ sweeps at the Pandemmys
And now for a little entertainment news: Like many things this year, the 2020 Emmy Awards, held Sunday night in Los Angeles (and wherever nominees were holed up), went remote. Jimmy Kimmel hosted the event from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, sans audience (but with some awkward intercuts of audience members laughing from previous shows). There was no red carpet — scheduled hosts Giuliana Rancic and Vivica A. Fox both canceled after testing positive for coronavirus — and winners gave their acceptance speeches from remote locations, often after being presented their award by a person in a hazmat suit.
In addition to the unusual set-up, there were a few firsts. "Schitt's Creek," a show that hadn't won a single Emmy during its six-season run, took home seven comedy awards, including lead actor (Eugene Levy), lead actress (Catherine O'Hara), supporting actor (Dan Levy), supporting actress (Annie Murphy), writing, directing and comedy series.
Also making history was Zendaya, who became the youngest person to win best drama actress for her role in HBO's "Euphoria."
Other big winners included critical favorites "Succession" and "Watchmen."
Ellen begins new season with an apology
Also making news Monday was Ellen DeGeneres, who returned to the studio for her eponymous talk show's 18th season. As expected, the comedian addressed the big elephant in the empty television studio: the allegations that her show was a toxic workplace environment. DeGeneres, 62, told viewers that "my intention is to always be the best person I can be, and if I've ever let someone down, if I've ever hurt their feelings, I am so sorry for that. If that's ever the case, I have let myself down and I've hurt myself as well."
Ginsburg to lie in state at U.S. Capitol, LAPD uses controversial facial recognition software, COVID outbreak at San Diego State
Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday, will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol on Friday, the first woman in history to be so honored.
New figures obtained by the Los Angeles Times say that the L.A. Police Department has used controversial facial-recognition software nearly 30,000 times in the last 11 years, comparing images of taken from surveillance cameras to those in a massive database of mugshots.
Rollback expected as San Diego State experiences COVID-19 outbreak. While fewer students than normal returned to San Diego State University campus for the beginning of the new school year, parties, cookouts and other beginning-of-the-semester festivities caused COVID infections to soar, KTLA reported.
In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: Deadline, Forbes, KTLA, Los Angeles Times.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Snow Fire, Ellen DeGeneres, Emmy Awards, Schitt's Creek, Ruth Bader Ginsburg