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Updated at 11:50 p.m. ET

Even as many of the thousands of people forced to evacuate from deadly California wildfires were being allowed to return to their homes, yet another fire has started in the Santa Cruz mountains.

Authorities said 60 people were still missing on Tuesday from the fires that have killed at least 42 people, destroyed more than 6,000 homes and burned through some 200,000 acres of the state.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The fires burning in Northern California have now grown to over 200,000 acres and have killed more than 40 people. Closer to home the area off Highway 41 near Yosemite is recovering from the Railroad Fire that threatened communities, resorts and even a large grove of giant sequoias.

But perhaps the most iconic feature at risk of being lost was the historic Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad.

Homeowners Near Yosemite Are Struggling To Stay Insured

Oct 17, 2017
Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

With fires burning across California devastating entire communities, homeowners are beginning to file claims with their insurance companies. But in the mountains of eastern Madera County, many homeowners say they’re losing their insurance during a time when they could need it most.

Frank Ealand lives in an area near Coarsegold in the foothills of eastern Madera County that insurance companies call a fire prone zone. He says in the past three years his homes have gone without insurance after being dropped by companies three times.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

Earlier this year, we reported on a new immigration policy in Madera County: Whenever the county jail was releasing a foreign-born felon back into the community, it would coordinate that release with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, which could potentially detain or deport that felon. But when a civil rights group looked into the policy, it uncovered a problem—one that could amount to a violation of an open meeting law.

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Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

As several Republican U.S. senators gear up for re-election fights from within their own party, a prominent Democrat now faces one too. California state Senate leader Kevin de León says he’s challenging Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s re-election bid next year.
 
De León (D-Los Angeles) announced his candidacy Sunday morning with a highly-produced campaign video emailed to supporters.
 

Amanda Monaco / Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability

 

A new ride share program is bringing the convenience of services like Uber and Lyft to rural valley communities. The service known “Van y Vienen” is aiming to help residents who lack easy transportation options.

The program launched Wednesday in Cantua Creek and El Porvenir, two unincorporated communities in western Fresno County. Both lack grocery stores and medical clinics and have little cell phone service. Until recently, locals without cars have relied on neighbors to get around.

 

http://www.garrybredefeld.com/

A Fresno City Councilmember is apologizing for remarks he made two weeks ago that some community members have interpreted as racially insensitive. Councilmember Garry Bredefeld found himself in hot water after wading into the controversy over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.

Isolino Ferreira/Flickr / License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode

Over the past month we’ve brought you stories about how online short-term rental sites are changing the communities near Yosemite National Park. The booming vacation rental market is creating a shortage of places for locals to rent for the long-term and in some cases contributing to the area's homeless problem. And now the growing lack of long-term rentals is causing a hiring issue in Yosemite.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

Earlier this summer, a contract between CalViva health and Kaiser Permanente left 9,000 Medi-Cal patients in the San Joaquin Valley to find all new doctors. We were curious how that transition happened, so we set out to find out how significant this change was in the healthcare world and how doctors and patients experienced it.

As part of our series Struggling For Care, we invited listeners to call in with their experiences trying to find doctors in the San Joaquin Valley. Some audio clips below are directly taken (with permission) from voicemails left on our tip line, others from more in-depth conversations. All highlight the frustration, helplessness and occasionally high stakes of a region with too few medical providers.

Jeanine Evans

Law enforcement in Las Vegas, Nevada are putting together the pieces of what lead to the most deadly mass shooting in modern American history. But already, the impacts are being felt here in the Central Valley.

A number of other Central Valley residents also attended the concert, which is an annual event.

Janine Evans went to the festival for the first time with her sister and her friends, who go every year.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Thursday’s massive rockfall in Yosemite National Park has rock climbers on alert. It’s the second major fall within 48 hours on El Capitan – one of the world’s largest granite monoliths, standing over 3,000 feet above Yosemite Valley. 

The formation is popular among climbers, like Alec Wright from Eugene, Oregon. He was one of the first people on the scene after the rocks fell.

Laura Tsutsui / KVPR

Thirty years ago, a bird native to California was on the brink of extinction. Known for its impressive size, the California condor has been the target of recovery efforts ever since. Now, as biologists prepare to release more birds into the wild in Kern County, the recovery program is gaining new momentum.

 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Farmers are relying more and more on technology to help them manage their crops and often that means working with unmanned aerial systems. Using drones to make two dimensional maps of orchards isn’t anything new, but one agricultural researcher – Ali Pourreza – in Central California is taking existing drone technology to the next level.

“I thought, okay, two-dimensional imaging has been around a long time and it's helped a lot, but right now we have the capability to make 3D models,” says Pourreza.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

A few weeks ago, the Fresno Police Department busted a sex trafficking ring among the Bulldog Gang—unfortunately, only the latest of many sex trafficking cases uncovered recently in the Valley. This kind of crime is likely what comes to mind when you think of human trafficking—but another kind of trafficking also occurs in the Valley, sometimes in plain sight, and law enforcement officials worry it’s more common than anyone knows.

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