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Morning Brief: The Palisades Fire, Tax Day, And The Art Of Kobe

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(Chava Sanchez)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s May 17.

Wildfire season in California is quickly turning into a year-round state of existence, and things are only getting worse. As my colleague Jacob Margolis recently reported, five of the state’s largest wildfires on record occurred in 2020.

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With this year being unusually dry to boot, it’s sadly no surprise that the fire that broke out in Pacific Palisades on Friday evening grew rapidly, and firefighters were having trouble getting any containment by Sunday evening.

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The Palisades blaze began as a brush fire. By Saturday evening, it had spread to 750 acres, and mandatory evacuations were issued east of Topanga Canyon between the Community House and View Ridge, and in the area north of Entrada, south of Oakwood and east of Henry Ridge. Those evacuations affected an estimated 1,000 people.

On Sunday evening, the fire reached 1,325 acres, and an evacuation warning was issued for the 1500 block of Chastain Parkway West and several surrounding streets.

Because the area is so rugged and the terrain so steep, the effort to battle the blaze has been waged largely by helicopters, and by firefighters trained specifically in that type of work. They have needed to hike to reach parts of the flames.

Officials believe that the blaze was an act of arson, and are actively looking for the individual responsible.

Dry weather has plagued Southern California for the past year, and the area where the Palisades Fire broke out hasn’t burned for more than 50 years — conditions that could mean it burns more quickly.

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Recently, scientists and experts have considered highly unconventional ways to fight wildfires in the area, including planting banana trees to act as a barrier between potential fires and homes, and deploying goats to munch on very dry, highly flammable terrain.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • After a month-long delay, tax day is here.
  • In the past week, L.A. County health workers have seen a rush of pre-teens and teenagers coming in for COVID-19 shots.
  • A planned massive wildlife crossing over the 101 Freeway in the Liberty Canyon area of Agoura Hills is a step closer to happening.
  • A battle over housing the homeless is taking place in the San Gabriel Valley city of Arcadia.

Before You Go ... The Art Of Kobe

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Kobe Bryant mural along Melrose Avenue. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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After basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people died January 26, 2020 in a helicopter crash, artists across the world turned their grief into art.

There are now more than 500 murals honoring Bryant worldwide. Nearly 300 of them are in Southern California, which is recognized globally for its long commitment to mural art.

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