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The deadliest U.S. wildfire in 100 years

They escaped the Maui wildfire relying on their five senses and friends and neighbors running up and down the street warning, "The fire's a mile away," "half a mile," "a few blocks."
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Los Angeles Times
Today's Headlines
Click to view images Days after a wildfire destroyed most of Lahaina, crews are going house to house in search of survivors or human remains. This official marks a structure after looking over the property. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

By Laura Blasey, Karim Doumar

Hello, it's Monday, Aug. 14, and here are the stories you shouldn't miss today:

TOP STORIES

Lahaina resident tells of a desperate escape, with a wall of flames in his rearview mirror. They had nothing to rely on but their five senses and what he called the "coconut telegraph": friends and neighbors running up and down the street warning, "The fire's a mile away," "half a mile," "a few blocks."

When they finally made the decision to flee, they drove straight into a nightmare that will go down as the deadliest traffic jam in U.S. history.

More from Maui

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Fear of the 'Big Melt' turns to big relief along California's Eastern Sierra. Although a state of emergency remains in effect throughout much of the Eastern Sierra Nevada — a region where epic snowpack had threatened to unleash catastrophic flooding on small valley towns — local officials and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power are finally breathing a collective sigh of relief.

The worst days of the "Big Melt" are over, they say.

New schedules, anxious kids, 4-year-old students. It's the first day of school in LAUSD. L.A. Unified begins the school year welcoming a new crop of highly desired students: 4-year-olds. Supt. Alberto Carvalho also pledges to make up pandemic learning loss in two years for all.

Southeast L.A. County cities enact rent control to keep residents housed. Cities such as Maywood, Bell Gardens and Cudahy are trying to address the affordable housing and homelessness crises. Landlords argue rent control will result in less housing.

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OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

The recipe for a hot labor summer? Corporate greed, low unemployment, housing crisis. Los Angeles has become a city of picket lines this summer, with more than 100,000 workers out on strike in the region. The city is hot, sweaty and built on solidarity.

When disease ravaged her body, Sara was crystal clear about what she wanted. "My partner was nearing the end of her nine-month journey through ALS and she would take her life on Friday."

Essay: Why British post-punk matters to U.S. Latinidad. In the year since its publication, "A Kiss Across the Ocean: Transatlantic Intimacies of British Post-Punk and US Latinidad" has connected author Richard T. Rodrรญguez with fellow admirers of the genre.

PHOTO OF THE DAY

A banyan tree stands along Lahaina town's historic Front Street.
A banyan tree stands along Lahaina town's historic Front Street. (Jennifer McDermott / Associated Press)

In 1873, an exotic banyan tree was planted in the port town of Lahaina, a major hub for the then-Kingdom of Hawaii. At the time it was only 8 feet tall. Today, its branches extend over 60 feet high and stretch even wider. The banyan tree remains standing, appearing to have withstood the flames. But experts worry that the heat of the devastating Lahaina fire could bring an end to the 150-year-old tree.

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CALIFORNIA

Officials investigate close call between business jet and Boeing 737 at San Diego airport. The Cessna Citation business jet had to abort its landing Friday because a Southwest Boeing 737 was still on the runway waiting to depart. The Federal Aviation Administration said it was sending a team of experts to determine just how close the aircraft were.

San Francisco's North Beach streets clogged as long line of Cruise robotaxis come to a standstill. One day after California green-lighted a massive expansion of driverless robotaxis, as many as 10 Cruise vehicles blocked two narrow streets about 11 p.m. Friday. Cruise blamed cellphone carriers for the problem.

'Why here?' Deadly Irvine ambush rattles community that rarely sees violence. The Aug. 3 ambush, which authorities allege was premeditated and stemmed from a drug dispute, left the victim's family in mourning and residents grappling with unfamiliar pangs of uneasiness in a community long renowned for its safety.

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NATION-WORLD

Police questioned over legality of Kansas newspaper raid in which computers, phones seized. A small Kansas police department is facing a firestorm of criticism after it raided the offices of a newspaper and the home of its publisher and owner.

Rising political threats take U.S. into uncharted territory as 2024 election looms. The threats are not simply an issue of coarsening of the national discourse. Experts warn they can be precursors of political violence.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Video game voice actors say 'soul of the industry is on trial' with unregulated AI. Voice actors hope for their own contract requiring consent and compensation for AI to reproduce their voices or likenesses.

'I'm not going to make $1': The director of 'Sound of Freedom' breaks his silence. After weeks distancing himself from the controversy around his summer box-office sensation, Alejandro Monteverde finally tells "the whole story."

WGA and AMPTP resume negotiations amid signs of a possible thaw in the standoff. A source close to the negotiations who was not authorized to comment said the session was more productive than the talks on Aug. 4 — the first since the Hollywood writers strike began May 2.

BUSINESS

How the Biden administration is pouring billions into technology that sucks carbon from the air. Officials selected the first winners of a $3.5-billion fund dedicated to developing the machines scientists say will be needed to stop the worst effects of climate change.

Neeraj Khemlani steps down as head of CBS News. No successor was named, but Khemlani shared his title with Wendy McMahon, who oversees the CBS-owned TV stations and could step into his role.

SPORTS

Forged in football alongside his father, D'Anton Lynn aims to revive UCLA's defense. D'Anton Lynn, son of former Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, is a rising name in the football coaching ranks. Can he revitalize UCLA's woeful defense?

Dodgers reliever Ryan Brasier's lasting motto: 'I just kind of kept going. Ryan Brasier has emerged as a key reliever for the Dodgers since joining midseason after several years with Boston, where he had a roller-coaster ride.

Lakers' Austin Reaves has big-time talent with small-town drive. The Lakers guard is one of the team's most popular players with a big-money contract and a spot on the Team USA World Cup team. But he's not lost the drive from having to prove himself.

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OPINION

The $1-million home is becoming the norm in L.A. This is an outrage we could have prevented. The most promising prescription for the housing shortage is undoing single-family zoning and increasing density.

Have fun with strangers. Democracy and our mental health may depend on it. We all need to be expanding our social circles. What better time than summer to play outside and make some new friends?

L.A. doesn't have enough parks. Why can't our schools fill the gap? Los Angeles lacks equitable access to park space. An easy solution is for school playgrounds and fields to serve as parks after school hours.

ONLY IN L.A.

Photocollage with the words "When L.A. invented rap radio: The rise of KDAY"
Clockwise from bottom left: Greg Mack mans the boards; Mack, left, with Will Smith and Tatyana Ali; Eazy-E and Mack; Janet Jackson and Mack; Andre Fuller, Big Daddy Kane and Mack; Steve Campfield, Mack and Zapp's Roger Troutman. (Photo illustration: Shira Inbar / For The Times; photos, clockwise from bottom left: from Greg Mack; from A. Turner archive; from Mack; from A. Turner archive; from Andre Fuller; from Steve Campfield.)

KDAY became the country's first radio station to play hip-hop on a full-time basis. In addition to programming the more established East Coast acts, music director Greg Mack would bring on neighborhood artists to promote themselves live on air, and, in the process, spread the word about KDAY to friends and family. It was the old-school version of influencer culture. That's how L.A. invented rap radio.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Bill Plaschke's front-page story about Usain Bolt's history-making 100-meter dash race at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Usain Bolt made history on Aug. 14, 2016, when he won his third straight Olympic gold in the 100-meter dash, completing the sprint in 9.81 seconds. (Los Angeles Times)

Bill Plaschke memorialized Usain Bolt's Aug. 14, 2016, race into history like so: "He sprinted out of the starting blocks in the middle of the pack, and an entire stadium gasped. Then suddenly, as if struck by his last name, he sprinted past the rest of the world, past history, past belief, and the Olympics roared."

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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