California Today: In Chico, Feeding Fire Evacuees and Emergency Workers

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Thousands of people have been displaced by California’s brutal fires, and wherever there are evacuees, there are volunteers getting to work.

World Central Kitchen set up an emergency commissary kitchen in Chico on Saturday to provide relief. Its team now cooks and delivers about 10,000 meals a day for evacuees and emergency medical workers.

“We find existing structures and we bring the knowledge, the chefs and the hands,” said Sam Chapple, 33. The kitchen is run by the organization’s team of chefs along with 40 to 50 volunteers recruited mostly through social media. It gets freshly cooked meals to 18 locations around Chico.

This includes feeding the evacuees staying at Red Cross shelters around town, as well as the volunteers managing the makeshift animal shelters inside the Chico Municipal Airport. It includes the families who gather at an old Toys “R” Us parking lot to pick up donations. And it includes the many hundreds of people staying in their cars, in tents and in a crowded Walmart parking lot.

“It’s a rolling number of meals because people are in and out,” Mr. Chapple said, “but we’re delivering twice a day, and the food is free for whoever needs it. Hot dishes show warmth.”

Other restaurant industry leaders are also working to help. When Jose Uriarte heard that people were taking refuge in parking lots, he closed his restaurant in Chico and drove his taco truck toward the Camp Fire shelters to hand out burritos. And Guy Fieri went to a staging area in Butte College, to feed firefighters and other emergency medical workers.

The Tall Pines Entertainment Center, a bowling alley in Paradise, has become an emergency operations center where Mr. Chapple helps serve about 700 meals each night to emergency medical workers.

“They’re right in the center of it,” he said. “We’re trying to give them some humanity and dignity.”

At the bowling alley, people from the Fire Department, the Army and the National Guard are working 24-hour shifts. Among them are the search-and-rescue crews going into the rubble, in daylight and in darkness, to find the missing.

“We want to remind them they’re cared for,” Mr. Chapple said, “because they’re giving everything they can to care for others.”

California Online

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Fires Coverage From Across the State

President Trump will travel to California on Saturday to tour the damage and meet with those affected by the wildfires. [The New York Times]

• As the Camp Fire swept through Northern California, it laid bare one of the state’s biggest vulnerabilities: its acute housing crisis. [The New York Times]

• As investigators try to determine what started the most devastating wildfire in state history, the beginning premise is that human beings were probably behind it. [The New York Times]

• Cal Fire now has a map where residents affected by the Camp Fire can check on their homes and businesses. [Capital Public Radio]

• More Americans are living in areas where housing and nature meet — zones where wildfires pose the greatest risk. [The New York Times]

• We asked readers for their stories of evacuating from the wildfires ravaging California. [The New York Times]

• About 1,500 inmates are currently fighting fires around the state for several dollars a day. Yet after they’re released, firefighting jobs will be hard to find. [The New York Times]

• Farmworkers in Southern California continued to labor in the fields, even as smoke filled the air and officials warned residents to stay indoors. [Pacific Standard]

• Dozens of couples have had to cram a year’s worth of wedding planning into the span of a week as the wildfires have forced them to find alternative venues. [The New York Times]

• In the Bay Area, the toxic smoke is a bleak backdrop and an apt metaphor for where Silicon Valley now finds itself, our Op-Ed contributor writes. [The New York Times | Opinion]

In Other News

• Mark Zuckerberg held a conference call in response to The Times’s investigation into Facebook’s tactics. The call quickly went sideways as furor against the company gained momentum. [The New York Times]

“I don’t really want to work for Facebook.” As the social media site has been rocked by scandal after scandal, some young engineers are souring on the company. [The New York Times]

• Representative Nancy Pelosi’s fight to become speaker of the House has become charged with the delicate and timely issue of gender. [The New York Times]

Katie Porter defeated Representative Mimi Walters in the 45th District. Democrats have now captured three of the four congressional seats in Orange County. [The New York Times]

• Despite President Trump’s predictions of an invasion force of migrants at the border, it was business at usual in Tijuana on Thursday. [The New York Times]

• Tom Emens is a sexual abuse survivor and is now suing all of California’s Catholic bishops. He spoke about what the lawsuit means to him. [Pacific Standard]

• An affirmative action critic sued the U.C. system for access to admissions records just two weeks after the Harvard discrimination suit. [The New York Times]

• The decision to start construction on the high-speed rail line in the Central Valley without first securing land contributed to $600 million in cost overruns, a report state auditor found. Those overruns could require an additional $1.6 billion. [The Sacramento Bee]

• “I lost all faith in Tesla. I don’t think I’ll ever buy a Tesla.” This is what the company’s “delivery logistics hell” is like for frustrated Model 3 buyers. [The New York Times]

• Steve McQueen and Viola Davis spoke to us about authenticity in art and why Hollywood needs its own civil rights movement. [The New York Times]

And Finally …

The Big Game is this weekend, and the Cal Band made its annual visit to the San Francisco Chronicle newsroom on Thursday ahead of the occasion, according to journalists who tweeted videos of the performance. A straw-hatted crew showed up just as deadline approached in a tradition that dates back to at least 1961.

U.C. Berkeley and Stanford meet on the gridiron for a rivalry matchup that’s usually marked as much by off-field antics as it is by actual football. Carol Christ, the U.C. Berkeley chancellor, wrote on Thursday that while classes were canceled Friday because of deteriorating air quality, officials were waiting to make a call on Saturday’s game in case things get better.

California Today goes live at 6 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: [email protected].

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.

Inyoung Kang contributed reporting.

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