Orange Skies And Other Stories

Sep 11, 2020

Welcome to KAZU's weekly news roundup where you'll find the top local stories of the week and a few select national stories from NPR.

It seems appropriate during these strange and difficult times that the sky would take on an eerie orange glow. The smoke from over two dozen fires across California mixed with late summer fog gave our coast an otherworldly feel, even as Cal Fire reminds us this is only the beginning of fire season.

For farmworkers, there’s no escape from the smoky air. KAZU’s Erika Mahoney produced a national story about the double threat farmworkers face between COVID-19 and wildfires. The story aired on Labor Day. 

This week, the Dolan Fire in south Monterey County exploded in size. KAZU’s Doug McKnight reported on how the fire consumed a fire station, trapping 14 firefighters and injuring three. The team survived by using their fire shelters, tent-like safety devices that look like silver sleeping bags. Two of the firefighters were released from the hospital on Wednesday. The third is in stable condition and able to be with friends and family. An accident investigation is underway. 

Both the River Fire near Salinas and the Carmel Fire near Cachagua are fully contained. Still, a long road to recovery lies ahead. For KAZU News, Caitlin Thompson shared the voices of two people who lost their homes in the Carmel Fire

Fire crews continue to mop up and control hot spots throughout the perimeter of the CZU Lightning Complex fire in Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties. Many resources have moved to other wildfires in California, but nearly 800 personnel are still assigned to the blaze.. 

Wildfire Containment as of Friday Morning:

CZU Lightning Complex Fire - 85%

River Fire - 100%

Carmel Fire - 100%

Dolan Fire - 26%

But the statistics only tell part of the story. For KAZU News, Hannah Hagemann took us into the world of the men and women who fight wildland fires. She joined a Cal Fire crew as they scouted for new hazards, like embers hiding in dense layers of redwood needles. 

Did you catch California Governor Gavin Newsom’s update mid-week on the state’s response to wildfires? Newsom talked about climate change. He said he has “no patience for climate change deniers.” Catch the moment around 20:40. We posted his speech on KAZU’s Facebook page.

NPR and PBS Frontline teamed up for an investigation into how oil and gas companies have misled the public about plastic recycling. NPR and PBS Frontline spent months reviewing internal industry documents.  

In COVID-19 updates, Santa Cruz County is now in the “Red Tier” under the state’s new blueprint for economic recovery during the pandemic. The Red Tier means some economic restrictions can be lifted. With safety modifications, personal care services, restaurants, places of worship, movie theaters, gyms and museums can open indoors. Still, public health officials are urging caution. They’re anticipating a surge in cases because many wildfire evacuees were forced to mix with people from outside their household. If the case rate does go up, Santa Cruz County could see itself instructed to close up again.

Santa Cruz County Cases (as of Friday): 2,021 total, 7 deaths

Monterey County Cases (as of Friday): 8,761 total, 64 deaths

San Benito County Cases (as of Thursday): 1,209 total, 10 deaths

Youth anxiety and depression are getting worse since COVID lockdowns began in March, early studies suggest — and experts say they fear a corresponding increase in youth suicide. Thursday was World Suicide Prevention Day

Recently our partners at American Public Media announced that due to large and unexpected financial challenges brought on by the pandemic, production and distribution of the variety show Live From Here with Chris Thile would be discontinued. While we’re sad to see this program leave, we now have the opportunity to share some other beloved public media programs each weekend on KAZU including The New Yorker Radio Hour, It’s Been A Minute With Sam Sanders, and Freakonomics Radio.

Check out the full KAZU Program Guide online and download your own copy of the KAZU Radio Schedule to post near your radio or smartspeaker. 

Mail-in ballots go out three weeks from Monday. With local election officials emphasizing early voting, it is not too soon to develop a voting plan. We have some useful election websites for you to check out: 

Am I registered? 

How do I register? 

Where is my ballot? 

Your vote matters.

We couldn’t end this Friday’s newsletter without taking a moment to remember those who died in the September 11th terrorist attacks. Even in difficult times, it’s important to pay tribute to the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives 19 years ago today. 

Until next week,

The KAZU Team