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Maui firefighters' fateful decision

The decision to pull fire crews shortly before the blaze began its deadly march has become a flashpoint as questions mount over whether more could have been done to stave off the deadly destruction.
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Los Angeles Times
Today's Headlines
Click to view images Homes and businesses in Lahaina on the Hawaiian island of Maui lie in ruins after last week's devastating wildfire. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

By Elvia Limรณn, Kevinisha Walker

Hello, it's Thursday, Aug. 24, and here are the stories you shouldn't miss today:

TOP STORIES

Maui firefighters left the blaze site before it began its deadly march across Lahaina. In the first hours of what would become the Maui firestorm, firefighters had a fateful choice. After responding to an initial small fire on the edge of town shortly after sunrise, officials determined that it had been fully contained and the danger to the historic town of Lahaina had passed.

With other fires burning elsewhere on the island, emergency personnel made the decision to move on. But within an hour or two of the last firefighters leaving the scene, the blaze began to flare up, according to witnesses.

L.A. City Council signs off on police raises amid warnings of financial risk. The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday approved a four-year package of raises and bonuses for rank-and-file police officers over the objections of critics who said the deal is too expensive and will put the city's money toward the wrong things.

The council's decision is expected to push the police spending in L.A. up to $3.6 billion by 2027 from the $3.2 billion budgeted in the current year. The vote also handed a major victory to Mayor Karen Bass, who sits on the city's bargaining committee and had argued for the contract.

L.A. tenants welcomed the rent freeze, but landlords are tired of restrictions. Los Angeles is the only major city that still has an emergency rent freeze — lasting until Feb. 1. — on rent-stabilized units, which make up almost three-quarters of its apartments.

For many renters, the freeze has been a lifeline. But landlords say they were forgotten in the debate — forced to dip into savings and let tenants fall tens of thousands of dollars behind in rent, even selling nest eggs that were supposed to fund them through retirement.

Southern California's 'water doctor' pushes for transformation to adapt to climate change. As general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Adel Hagekhalil is responsible for ensuring water for 19 million people, leading the nation's largest wholesale supplier of drinking water. He says that with climate change upending the water cycle, the three existing aqueducts will no longer be sufficient.

Inside the ruthless crime wave targeting L.A.'s vulnerable street food vendors. In late May and early June, Tacos Los Chemas and four nearby food stands in South Los Angeles were targeted by armed robbers. On July 10, four more vendors in the area were struck in less than an hour. A third string of attacks occurred Aug. 16, when six mobile sellers were robbed in Echo Park, Hollywood and downtown L.A.

Food vendors say they are scared — but can't afford to stay home from work.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

A man leans on a shopping cart in an outdoor encampment.
Curtis Wilmoth sits next to his encampment in the woods in Jackson, Miss. One of his infants died here, and the other infant was later taken by social services. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Mississippi has problems but it's crushing L.A. when it comes to homelessness. Mississippi has plenty of problems, starting with the nation's second highest poverty rate, just behind Louisiana's. Yet the state also has the country's lowest homeless rate, a combination of statistics that is hard to fathom for those who believe poverty directly leads to homelessness.

CALIFORNIA

As Hollywood strikes drag on, California lawmakers consider unemployment pay for striking workers. The "hot labor summer" is prompting California lawmakers to introduce last-minute legislation to help workers.

Fragile-looking Tom Girardi appears at his court hearing regarding competency to stand trial. Girardi's competency hearing got underway Wednesday with the once-renowned trial lawyer shuffling into a courtroom wearing a bewildered look and what appeared to be bedroom slippers on his feet.

L.A. County fails to place older foster kids, leaving them homeless, a lawsuit alleges. The suit argues the county and state violate the constitutional rights of older foster youths by subjecting them to "extreme housing instability and homelessness."

From prison to film set, this program creates a new pipeline. ManifestWorks, a nonprofit workforce training program, helps individuals affected by incarceration, homelessness and foster care get film careers in Hollywood.

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NATION-WORLD

Rudolph Giuliani and Sidney Powell surrender at Fulton County jail in the Trump election case. Former President Trump's personal lawyers Rudolph Giuliani and Sidney Powell surrender to authorities following their indictment in Fulton County, Ga., in Dist. Atty. Fani Willis' 2020 presidential election case.

  • Eight Republican presidential hopefuls opened their first debate Wednesday night without the party's main attraction, hoping to show they can solve a puzzle that has bewildered GOP politicians for eight years: how to get past Donald Trump.

The great uncle of Russia's most infamous warlord was a beloved resident of this Ukrainian city. Should his name be scrubbed from its museum? Disputes over the naming of institutions have erupted across the U.S. in recent years as the country grapples with its history of slavery and racism. The case of the Ukrainian museum comes with a twist: Can a family name be enough to ostracize somebody who is otherwise beloved?

Japan loves its sushi. But the fish are disappearing. Japan's fishing and seafood industry is under threat as warming sea temperatures spur changes in marine life behavior and migration patterns.

Russian mercenary chief and mutineer Prigozhin killed in jet crash, state media say. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the notorious mercenary chieftain who led a failed uprising against Russian President Vladimir Putin two months ago, was listed as a passenger on a private jet that crashed north of Moscow on Wednesday with no survivors, Russian officials said.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Hollywood unions (and stars) rally near Disney amid strikes. 'They underestimated our resolve.' More than 3,000 union members gathered near Walt Disney Co.'s Burbank headquarters in support of striking Hollywood actors — buoyed by impassioned speeches from actors such as Kerry Washington, Martin Sheen and Ron Perlman.

Studios tout 'comprehensive package' to WGA. Union criticizes attempt 'to get us to cave.' In its statement, the AMPTP said it is offering the largest pay bump for the WGA in 35 years, with wages increasing 5% in the first year of the proposed contract, followed by gains of 4% and 3.5% in subsequent years.

Column: Lizzo has many talents. If recent claims are true, being the boss isn't one of them. Hey, managers, here's a basic HR tip: Don't take your employees to a live nude performance in Amsterdam. Or any other city, for that matter. Because if certain allegations in the lawsuit she faces are true, someone should definitely have told Lizzo.

'Disney Lorcana' aims to shake up the trading card game space. "Lorcana" taps into Disney's storied animation history, as players will use cards to accrue ink, which can conjure images of popular characters, objects and songs, all in a quest for what the game defines as "lore."

BUSINESS

He revived a vintage California pottery line. Now, Bauer collectors are flocking to his lost-lease sale. Bauer Pottery, which revived a colorful vintage line more than 20 years ago, has lost its Los Angeles showroom lease. And there's a clearance sale.

With 'everybody else' dead or gone, a Pasadena bank grows. With $68.5 billion in total assets, East West is the only state bank with more than $50 billion in assets, a level that triggers closer scrutiny by state regulators.

SPORTS

Former USC star Reggie Bush to announce he plans to sue the NCAA for defamation. More than 13 years after the NCAA issued debilitating sanctions against USC, Reggie Bush is ready for a fight with college sports' governing body.

Clippers to donate proceeds from preseason game in Hawaii to Maui wildfire relief. The Clippers' season-opening trip to Hawaii in October for training camp will end with a preseason game that will double as a benefit for the state's recovery from wildfires.

Dodgers blow late lead to Guardians, raising questions about their left-handed relief options. The Dodgers might already have their postseason position locked up. But, the team still has plenty of questions to answer between now and October.

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OPINION

We have the tools to stop HIV. So why is it still spreading? There is medication to safeguard against contracting it. Medication to prevent spreading it. But there isn't a prescription for destigmatizing it.

Vivek Ramaswamy is the star of the GOP's presidential amateur hour. Ramaswamy is the standout among the amateurs. He personifies the utter brashness and hubris of a high achiever who looks in the mirror and sees a president.

ONLY IN L.A.

 A runner enjoys a jog in the shade on a trail.
A runner enjoys a jog in the shade on a trail near Los Feliz Boulevard and Fern Dell Drive at Griffith Park in Los Angeles. (Los Angeles Times)

Few trails are completely sun-free, but these 14 offer you a shot at that rare SoCal commodity: shade.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

A woman poses for photos
American aviator Amelia Earhart poses for photos as she arrives in Southampton, England, after her transatlantic flight on the "Friendship" from Burry Point, Wales, in 1928. (Associated Press)

On Aug. 24, 1932, Amelia Earhart took off from Los Angeles and when she landed in Newark, N.J. the following day, she became the first woman to complete a solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic.

She was already famous when she vanished on July 2, 1937, while attempting a grueling round-the-world flight in her Lockheed Electra 10E. But the unsolved mystery of her disappearance over the Pacific has made her mystique endure.

In 2017, The Times wrote about the country's fascination with the legendary aviator and whether we'll ever stop looking for her.

We appreciate that you took the time to read Today's Headlines! Comments or ideas? Feel free to drop us a note at headlines@latimes.com.

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