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California firestorm took deadly toll on elderly; average age of victims identified so far is 79

Los Angeles Times

As authorities begin to identify those killed in the wildfires raging across Northern California, a grim pattern is emerging. Among the dozen people identified by Sonoma and Napa county officials as of late Thursday, the average age of those who died was 79. The youngest victim was 57, the oldest 100. "The bulk of them are in their 70s and 80s, so there is that commonality," Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano told reporters at a news briefing. A majority were found inside their homes, unable to escape as the fire bore down.

Low-income housing ordered to be integrated in Baltimore neighborhoods - New HUD guidelines restrict landlords' ability to deny housing to criminals

FOX News

Baltimore-area neighborhoods are locked in a heated battle over a new push to bring residents from poor parts of the city into the more affluent suburbs. With crime in the inner city soaring and many of Baltimore's neighborhoods plagued by gang violence, there was a push to integrate those communities into neighborhoods in the surrounding county. The NAACP and others sued Baltimore County over alleged housing segregation – and the county has now settled, agreeing to spend 30 million over the next 10 years to build 1,000 homes in affluent neighborhoods. On top of that, the Baltimore County executive is planning to put forward legislation outlawing the practice of landlords denying – or as some see it, discriminating against – Section 8 tenants. "I think it's important that we make sure that opportunities are available to everyone within the region," County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said.

L.A. County residents shouldn't have to drive to Malibu to enjoy a beautiful park

Los Angeles Times

L.A.'s most famous treasures include unrivaled green spaces and hiking trails, many located in the hills that rim the county. Parks near the beaches and in the Santa Monica Mountains, the Hollywood Hills and the San Gabriels enhance the value of adjacent homes. You can see the arc of green on a map that was prepared several years ago as part of a study showing how all that parkland -- and the money to acquire, develop and maintain it -- is distributed around the county. But in the midst of that green circle are glaring swatches of red, signaling a longstanding lack of investment in local parks, pools, gyms, rec centers and gardens in densely packed neighborhoods of mostly non-white residents. Too often, L.A. County leaders addressed the gap by encouraging Angelenos without neighborhood parks to visit the mountains and beaches.

After vanishing in May, beloved toucan returns to Orange County neighborhood

Los Angeles Times

A toucan that became a local sensation while living wild much of the year in Southern California has finally been captured. The brightly colored female bird named Fern was spotted Tuesday in the rafters of a Yorba Linda auto repair shop. A service advisor made calls to animal experts including Omar's Exotic Birds, which dispatched an employee to capture Fern. The bird escaped in May from an aviary in Courtney Chapman's Fullerton home after Fern and a male toucan were delivered by a breeder. Chapman told the Orange County Register that she had been told the chances of getting the toucan back were slim.

Untouched by flames, Santa Rosa winery prepares food for devastated neighborhoods

Los Angeles Times

At least 13 people have died in Northern California fires that continue to ravage multiple counties, while the Anaheim Hills fire in Southern California has scorched between 5,000 to 6,000 acres. CalFire reported 13 fire-related deaths as of Tuesday morning. Seven died in Sonoma County, three in Mendocino County, two were in Napa County and one was in Yuba County. Local hospitals are treating others for injuries. At least 1,500 structures have been destroyed in more than 15 Northern California fires, covering collectively more than 100,000 acres.