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Northern California’s catastrophic wildfires have killed at least 31 people, a toll that surpasses the single deadliest fire in the state’s history. In 1933, the Griffith Park fire killed 29 people, according to officials.
Officials said Thursday that 21 major fires were still burning across the state.
Since igniting on Sunday, they’ve swept across roughly 300 square miles. In Santa Rosa alone, an estimated 2,834 homes were destroyed, the city’s mayor said on Thursday.
Canine teams have now began the grim task of looking for bodies in the wreckage. “It’s going to be a slow process,” said Robert Giordano, the Sonoma County sheriff.
With gusty winds expected Friday night and into Saturday, exhausted firefighters were bracing for yet another day of battle.
Here’s a look at some of the most powerful images from this week:
More on the Wildfires
• Smoke now envelops much of Northern California. Health officials are worried especially about young children. [The New York Times]
• Sonoma County officials chose not to send a widespread alert to cellphones for worry of starting a panic. [The Press-Democrat]
• A 14-year-old boy died as he tried to outrun the flames in Mendocino County. [The Mercury News]
• Californians had to make quick decisions as flames approached their homes. What did they take with them? [The New York Times]
• How one of the most destructive fires in California’s history moved so fast and burned so much. [The New York Times]
• Satellite images showed the destruction in Santa Rosa. [The New York Times]
• The home of “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz was destroyed. [The Associated Press]
• “We’ll all need to acknowledge a horrific and shocking event that will forever change us,” writes a Santa Rosa columnist. [Opinion | The Press-Democrat]
(Please note: We regularly highlight articles on news sites that have limited access for nonsubscribers.)
• Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation extending parental leave to 2.7 million more people. [Orange County Register]
• Kevin de León, the leader of the state Senate, appears ready to challenge Senator Dianne Feinstein. He strikes an “ideological sweet spot,” a political consultant said. [Sacramento Bee]
• Eli Broad, the billionaire who has shaped Los Angeles, announced that he is stepping down from public life. [The New York Times]
• “It’s greatly encouraging that women like Gwyneth Paltrow have gone public about Harvey Weinstein. But he is not an aberration,” writes Manohla Dargis. [The New York Times]
• Many Twitter users are boycotting the service on Friday after it suspended the account of Rose McGowan, a vocal critic of Mr. Weinstein. [The New York Times]
• Facebook, Google and others positioned themselves as entities that brought positive change. Now they are viewed as threats. [The New York Times]
• After years as Hollywood’s top African-American talent agent, Charles D. King is building a new production company — with a vision for bringing long-neglected stories to the screen. [The New York Times]
• How the Rams, Raiders, 49ers, Chargers (and every other N.F.L. team) can make the playoffs. [The New York Times]
• A neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide to all that makes Los Angeles great. [LA Weekly]
And Finally …
The new Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge is ready for its close-up.
Eight months after the old Highway 1 span in Big Sur buckled during winter storms, officials planned to open its replacement to traffic on Friday.
Kirk Gafill is the owner of Nepenthe, a cliffside restaurant in the enclave just south of the bridge where businesses depend on tourists from points north. The reopening, he said, “means everything for us.”
“It allows businesses to get back on their feet, employees to be fully recalled to work and families to just really re-engage,” he said.
Caltrans, the state transportation agency, put the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge project on a fast track, completing a job in months that would normally take years.
The timeline for another blockage in Big Sur, 35 miles to the south, won’t be so swift.
On May 20, a massive landslide at Mud Creek buried Highway 1 — and reshaped the coast.
Crews are carving a new road atop the slide, a project expected to require until at least the summer of 2018.
An opening ceremony for the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge was planned Friday morning. Speeches will be made and a ribbon cut — but it won’t open right away.
First they plan to hold an hourlong block party on the bridge for the local community.
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The California Today columnist, Mike McPhate, is a third-generation Californian — born outside Sacramento and raised in San Juan Capistrano. He lives in Los Osos. Follow him on Twitter.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.