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Firefighters Gain Ground Against Southern California Wildfire

October 6, 2013

Southern California Fire Threat Rises With Santa Ana Winds

"So far things look much better than they did yesterday," incident commander Norm Walker told reporters. "Last night, we increased the containment to 40%. We hope to bump that up considerably again tonight if conditions remain the same." A helicopter drops fire retardant on a flareup of the Powerhouse Fire near Lake Hughes, California, on Monday, June 3. More than 2,000 firefighters are battling the blaze, which started on May 30 and has spread to more than 30,000 acres about 70 miles north of Los Angeles. A raven flies in front of a flareup that broke through a containment line on June 3. Firefighters watch a hillside burn near Lake Hughes on June 3. A helicopter fills up from Lake Hughes to battle the Powerhouse wildfire on June 3 in Palmdale.
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Santa Ana winds batter Southern California; fire danger high

The Los Angeles National Weather Service said this is the highest wildfire threat in the past five years, due to the strong Santa Ana winds. The U.S. Drought Monitor reports that severe drought conditions are gripping Southern California, making matter worse, since there is an abundance of dry vegetation to fuel fires. RELATED: Hurricane Center Sparks from downed power lines and the work of arsonists are the main fire threats, AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark said. Some of the worst fires result from Santa Ana winds because they quickly spread the flames and embers, sometimes even causing fires to jump highways. The winds are expected to create hazardous travel, particularly of high-profile vehicles, through the region. Two potential areas of concern would be the Grapevine, Interstate 5 going into the Central Valley, and Interstate 15 through the Cajon Pass going up toward Las Vegas. Santa Ana winds are a phenomenon that occurs during the fall and winter months in Southern California, Clark said.
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Government Shut Down Makes Southern California Congress Members Gnash Teeth

Across a vast swath of Southern California, a federal shutdown would shutter cherished parks and open spaces, from Death Valley to Joshua Tree, from the Angeles National Forest to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The loss in local tourist revenue could run into the millions. That's why one Republican congressman representing much of the Mojave called for a short-term spending deal -- plus a bill to bar anyone in Congress from getting paid throughout a federal shutdown "As a member of Congress who wants to get things done, it's frustrating to see this game of Russian roulette play out," said Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley, whose district covers a swath from Death Valley National Monument to the U.S. Marine base at 29 Palms, said in a statement. "We shouldn't shut down government, and my constituents have made that clear to me. "We should pass a short-term continuing resolution until we can reach a longer-term deal." Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Arleta, a former Los Angeles councilman who has served as a congressman since January representing the northeast San Fernando Valley, called for a 45-day continuing resolution, without any negotiating poison pills.
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BioSpace Spotlights Southern California Biotech Leaders

(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times /October 4, 2013) By a Times Staff Writer October 4, 2013, 5:26 p.m. Wind gust topping 50 mph were reported in some parts of Southern California on Friday as Santa Ana winds battered the region. The strong winds and dry conditions have officials worried about wildfires this weekend. Red flag warnings are in affect this weekend. And the National Weather Service issued wind warnings through Saturday evening. Just .09 inches of rain has fallen in the last three months, said JPL climatologist Bill Patzert. "I can't exaggerate how crispy it is out there," he said. "It's really just super dry." This year has been the sixth-driest year in 135 recorded years, Patzert said. A healthy rainfall can help mitigate the effects of a Santa Ana wind, wetting vegetation and reducing the likelihood of fires. But total precipitation for the first nine months of this year has amounted to just 23% of the area's typical rainfall, Patzert said. Across the state, firefighters have battled an unusually high number of fires.
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Border prosecutions curtailed in Southern California after government shutdown

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Sparks fly from a hollowed burning tree at the Powerhouse Fire on Sunday, June 2, near Lake Hughes, California. official told The Associated Press that Duffy's office issued guidelines Monday that immigrant smuggling cases would more only be prosecuted only if they involved death or serious injury and non-marijuana drug smuggling cases would not be prosecuted if a suspect had a "border crossing card," which are visas issued to Mexicans living in border regions to allow short visits. Marijuana cases were not to be prosecuted at all. Felony prosecutions for re-entering the United States after deportation were accepted only for suspects previously convicted of a violent crime under the guidelines, which took effect when the shutdown began.. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because prosecution guidelines are not public. The guidelines were strengthened Wednesday to drop the requirement that the smuggling offence involve death or serious injury to instead be reviewed case by case, the official said. Felony prosecutions for re-entering the country after deportation were to be accepted for suspects with at least two felony convictions, even if they were non-violent. Duffy, in response to a request for comment, said in a statement, "Our initial contingency plan was not going to allow us to maintain our regular intake of criminal cases so we sought and received authorization from DOJ to exempt more of our criminal division staff from furloughs. As a result, tomorrow we are back to normal intake." The guidelines were issued for the Southern District of California, which spans the border with Mexico from the Pacific Ocean to the Arizona state line. It was unclear if they applied to other jurisdictions along the nation's northern and southern borders, including Arizona and Texas, which see the heaviest amount of immigration traffic. U.S. attorney offices issue guidelines to immigration enforcement agencies like the Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection's office of field operations, which oversees ports of entry.
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