Record heat and wildfire threat persisting out West over the weekend

ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Over 30 million remain under heat alerts from Arizona up through Washington State, where widespread highs in the triple digits are expected. Excessive Heat Warnings and Heat Advisories will still in effect through Sunday — and into next week for parts of the Pacific Northwest.

Hot, dry and windy conditions will also keep fire danger high, especially for crews working tirelessly to contain and control current wildfires across parts of California and the Pacific Northwest.

The potential for dry thunderstorms producing abundant lightning will increase over across portions of Oregon and Washington. This could spark new fires, increasing the risk even more. Red Flag Warnings remain in effect through Sunday evening.

The combination of the heat and smoke from wildfires will also bring poor air quality across portions of the Pacific Northwest as well. As a result, Air Quality Alerts remain in effect for parts of the region.

Intensifying heat out West

The heat dome over the West Coast will intensify and expand northward over the weekend, bringing temperatures back into record-setting territory for much of the region Saturday and Sunday.

Temperatures could reach record highs this weekend with Las Vegas, Nevada, potentially reaching 113 degrees; Needles, California, potentially reaching 118 degrees; and Mount Shasta, California, potentially reaching 100 degrees on Saturday.

On Sunday, places that could break record highs include Boise, Idaho, which could reach 107 degrees; Spokane, Washington, which could reach 108 degrees; Yakima, Washington, which could reach 105 degrees; Baker, Oregon, which could reach 102 degrees; and Las Vegas, Nevada, which could reach 113 degrees.

High heat and humidity will also impact parts of Central and South Florida Saturday and Sunday. Near Orlando, Sanford, Florida could see temperatures peak near record levels Saturday, with highs forecast to climb into the mid-90s.

Heat Advisories remain in effect through Sunday evening across South Florida, where heat index values up to 108 degrees are possible.

Heavy rainfall and flash flooding in the South

Weather conditions in the South will stay soggy and unsettled over the next stretch of days. A few severe storms could generate damaging winds, but heavy rainfall and the threat for flash flooding remain a bigger concern.

The stalled front responsible for rain and storms in the South will continue to bring locally heavy downpours to parts of the region in the days ahead.

Another 2 to 3 inches of rain is forecast through next week, from Texas to Virginia and the Carolinas, with higher amounts possible locally.

Flooding remains a bigger threat across portions of southeastern Virginia, where flood alerts remain in effect. After receiving as much as 4 to 6 inches across parts of the state, additional rainfall in the days ahead will only increase the potential for flooding, if not exacerbate any flooding that is already ongoing.

Meanwhile, shower and storm activity affecting the Central U.S. continues to keep temperatures near or below normal over the next few days and into next week.

Strong storms producing damaging winds, hail and locally heavy downpours could fire up across parts of the High Plains on Saturday afternoon and evening, too.

Flood alerts also remain in effect across portions of the southern Rockies in New Mexico, where additional rainfall from storms could lead to flooding through Saturday night.

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Two infants injured in fast-moving Fork Fire in Southern California’s Angeles National Forest

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(LOS ANGELES) — Two infants needed medical attention due to smoke inhalation as a fast-moving brush fire in Southern California spread 330 acres with 0% containment, officials said as of Saturday morning.

The brush fire began in the San Gabriel Mountains in northern Los Angeles County near East Fork and Glendora Mountain roads after 3:00 p.m. local time, according to Angeles National Forest officials, who named the spreading blaze the Fork Fire.

Highway 39 remains closed on Saturday, officials said. Firefighters applied hoses on two flanks of the wildfire late Friday night.

Multiple families had to evacuate the area, which has several hiking trails, officials said.

Two infants required medical attention due to being exposed to smoke during their escape, according to officials.

The condition of the children and others evacuated is not known at this time.

“Spreading is rapid, winds are light and growth potential is high,” Angeles National Forest officials said.

There is no immediate threat to buildings in the area, officials added.

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Historic Dallas church largely collapsed in massive fire

ABC News

(DALLAS) — Overhaul companies remain on the scene of a historic Baptist church in Dallas after a major fire broke out Friday, leaving the structure largely collapsed. As of Saturday morning, the fire was knocked down and contained.

First Baptist Dallas is a Baptist church located in Dallas, Texas, that dates back to 1890.

No injuries or deaths were reported in connection with the fire.

“The structure has largely collapsed, which has caused many void spaces with ‘hot spots’. While there is no indication that the fire will escalate, [Dallas Fire Rescue] is expected to maintain an extended presence on the scene to extinguish all lingering areas of fire and to maintain a safe perimeter around the unstable building,” the city of Dallas told ABC News in a statement Saturday.

The fire had been contained to the secondary chapel on Saturday. The fire department is maintaining a safe perimeter around the building, but said there have been no large-scale evacuations.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

“We are grateful that no one was injured today and are thankful for the first responders who helped contain the fire to our Historic Sanctuary. They continue working but the primary fire has been extinguished. One way or another, we intend to meet for church this Sunday,” Dr. Robert Jeffress, a pastor at the church, said in a Tweet late Friday.

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4 years after Kyle Rittenhouse shooting, Wisconsin city reflects on unity and moving on

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(KENOSHA, Wis.) — Kenosha, Wisconsin, is a picturesque community on the shore of Lake Michigan. It is known for its boats, fresh corn at the farmer’s market and the country’s oldest velodrome. However, everything changed when Kenosha burst into the national spotlight in 2020.

Jacob Blake, 29, a father of three, was shot seven times by a local police officer and left paralyzed from the waist down. Following the August 2020 police shooting of Blake, protests, riots, and civil unrest took place in Kenosha and across the United States as part of the Black Lives Matter movement and other groups protesting racial injustice.

Amid looting and riots in Kenosha, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse arrived at the scene armed, stating he was there to protect a car dealership from rioters. As the situation escalated, Rittenhouse shot three men, two of whom died.

Rittenhouse was charged with two felony counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, first-degree reckless homicide and first-degree intentional homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide. A charge of violating a curfew that was imposed during the protests in Kenosha was later dropped.

Rittenhouse pleaded not guilty to the charges and, during trial testimony, said he shot all three men with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle in self-defense.

Rittenhouse was found not guilty. Embraced by gun rights supporters, he became a symbol of the Second Amendment and gained popularity within the Republican Party.

Now, in the aftermath of an assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump, all eyes are on the state of Wisconsin, a battleground state where Trump recently visited for the Republican National Convention.

Residents of Kenosha are experiencing similar fears they felt four years ago, according to community activist Molly Gray-Moores.

“Oh, my God, are we going backward instead of moving forward?” Gray-Moores said. “We need our city and our nation to come to one place where we all come together. We can’t keep tearing up our city and our nation.”

Gray-Moore’s sentiments also resonate with Kenosha’s new police chief, Patrick Patton, who agrees. Patton was policing a local parade when news broke of the assassination attempt on Trump.

“Whatever side of the fence you fall on, an attack on an elected official or a former sitting president or a candidate for that matter is kind of an attack on our democracy,” Patton said. “The world kind of looks to America as the leaders in that field. So this sets us back. We can’t have it. It’s un-American.”

In rural Kenosha, it’s Trump country, and there has been a wake-up call. Some locals are concerned that people are resorting to violence, using guns instead of voting to get their message across.

“They might not always agree with us, but they have their opinions, we have our opinions,” Diane Biehn, a resident of rural Kenosha, said. “Let’s not take it to that level of violence.”

On the other side of town, a local businessman and barber is trying to increase community participation by holding community engagement sessions in his shop. Topics include the direction of our country and who will lead it.

Alvin Owens operates the Regimen Barber Collective and hopes to engage individuals from diverse backgrounds to advocate for voting and the right to vote.

ABC News spoke with a participant who said they benefited from these conversations and put their apathy toward the current presidential candidates aside.

“I got four children and they’re all boys, and I want them to be kings,” Kyle Smith said. “I want them to be men in the truest sense that they can. And I can’t teach that if I don’t embody it and I may not want to vote, but I got to, man. So, hopefully, I vote for the right person. We’ll see.”

Another participant encourages candidates to appreciate America’s diversity.

“I think that’s really important to go outside of your box and listen to other people and learn who they are, and embrace our diversity, because that’s what America is,” Jami Jastrom said.

As the nation enters the final months of this tumultuous election cycle, both presidential candidates are calling for less angry rhetoric and more unity, a sentiment shared by Kenoshans.

“Let’s work together,” Gray-Moores said. “Everybody has a voice, use it. You don’t have to use anger, you don’t have to use weapons. None of that, that’s not what we’re about.”

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Lesser-known dangers of hot cars include common items left in vehicles, experts say

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(NEW YORK) — The interior of a car is one of the most dangerous places for young children and pets during a heat wave. But everyday items can also be dangerous.

Water bottles, for example, pose unique hazards when temperatures begin to climb, according to experts.

One of the unexpected risks is the ability for water bottles — specifically clear bottles that contain clear liquid — to start a fire, David Richardson, administration major for the Midwest City Fire Department in Oklahoma, told ABC News.

Depending on the presence of sunlight, the reflective qualities of the bottle and liquid can heat up nearby objects to the point of fire ignition if hot enough, Richardson said.

When Richardson first learned of the potential danger of water bottles, he didn’t believe it. So he tested it out in a controlled environment and found that a water bottle was able to burn a hole through a piece of paper, like a magnifying glass.

Richardson emphasized that the “perfect storm” of conditions would need to be present for this phenomenon to occur. Not only would the bottle and liquid need to be clear, but sunlight would have to enter the car just right. Vehicles with tinted windows probably would not pose a similar risk, he said.

“The chances are pretty small, but they’re not impossible,” he explained.

Ingesting liquid that has been baking inside of a plastic water bottle in a hot car for a period of time could also impact human health.

A bottle’s manufacturing process, chemical composition, the outside temperature and how long the bottle has been exposed to heat means liquids could become contaminated with toxins, toxicologist and board-certified emergency medicine physician Dr. Stephanie Widmer told ABC News.

While research and expert opinions differ, the risk is not zero, Widmer said. It’s best to avoid drinking from plastic bottles that have been exposed to high temperatures until more conclusive research is available, she added.

Electronics with lithium batteries, such as a vape, electric scooter or toy, could also become a hazard when left in a hot car, Richardson said.

If the plastic casing surrounding the battery melts and exposes the lithium-ion battery to direct sunlight in addition to the high temperatures, there is a possibility it could explode, Richardson said.

Other everyday items that experts caution against leaving in hot cars due to the potential for them to explode include aerosol cans, canned and bottled soda and lighters. Items commonly left in hot cars like sunscreen, medicine and alcohol all have the potential to spoil, while glasses and sunglasses could melt and warp.

Leaving human beings in hot cars still remains the No.1 danger — often with fatal consequences.

It’s crucial to remember that leaving children or pets in a parked car, even for a short time, is very dangerous and can be fatal, Widmer said.

More than a dozen children have died so far this year after being left in a car during hot temperatures. Nearly 1,100 children have died in hot cars since 1990, according to KidsAndCars.org.

Extreme heat is expected for the rest of the summer in much of the U.S., forecasts show.

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Postal worker fatally shot in front of Chicago residence: Officials

ABC News

(CHICAGO) — A postal worker was fatally shot in front of a residence in Chicago on Friday, officials said.

The gunman approached the victim and fired multiple times before fleeing in a vehicle, police said.

“NALC (National Association of Letter Carriers) is heartbroken by the murder of Octavia Redmond, our sister from Chicago, IL Branch 11,” read a statement from the NALC released on Friday. “Today, Sister Redmond was shot multiple times on her route and was taken to the hospital, where she died. The perpetrator is still at large.”

Redmond had been a letter carrier for five years and was only 48 years old.

The shooting occurred on the city’s South Side in the West Pullman neighborhood around 11:38 a.m. CT, according to police.

The 48-year-old victim sustained “multiple gunshot wounds” and was transported to an area hospital, where she died, police said. Her name has not been released.

No one is in custody in connection with the shooting, police said.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service Chicago Division is offering a reward up to $250,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect or suspects.

“Like me, the members of NALC are outraged by this senseless act of violence that took an innocent woman’s life. For far too long, violent crime against letter carriers has been on the rise. Shockingly, now it is not uncommon for letter carriers to be targeted, assaulted, and even murdered. This is completely unacceptable, and we need immediate change,” read the NALC statement. “Every American deserves to go to work without fear and return home safely to their families. We will not stop fighting until this is a reality for all letter carriers.”

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Illinois woman killed in officer-involved shooting is honored at funeral

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(SPRINGFIELD, Ill.) — A funeral was held Friday for Sonya Massey, the Springfield, Illinois, woman who died after authorities say a police deputy shot her after she called 911 to report a possible intruder.

Sean Grayson, the deputy involved in the shooting who has since been fired, was indicted on three counts of first-degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and official misconduct, according to a statement from Sangamon County State’s Attorney John Milhiser.

Grayson pleaded not guilty and was denied pretrial release.

“Today is about peace, today is about my big sister. It’s not about that man that’s gonna rot in jail, it’s about my big sister,” Massey’s younger sister, Breeanna Toles, said. “As baby sister, I look back at our text messages. She’d say, ‘I love you, baby sister.’ I hold onto those memories. I wish all of my sisters could be in the room today.”

The Sangamon County State’s Attorney’s Office has not yet released the body camera footage of the incident, but is expected to do so on Monday, July 22.

“I know people wanna see the video, I know people wanna talk about the video; I just ask if you do it, just do it out of respect for us,” Toles said. “It’s not a video you want to see. My dad can’t even sleep.”

Two sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a Springfield, Illinois, residence at about 12:50 a.m. on July 6 to investigate a possible prowler, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office obtained by ABC News.

“At approximately 1:21 a.m., the Deputies reported that shots had been fired, resulting in a female being struck by gunfire,” according to the sheriff’s statement. “Deputies immediately administered first aid until EMS arrived. The woman was transported to St. John’s Hospital, where she was later pronounced deceased. No deputies were injured during the incident.”

The shooting was investigated for use of deadly force by the Illinois State Police (ISP) at the request of the Sangamon County Sheriff’s office. After an investigation and through viewing body-camera footage, Milhiser found that Grayson was not justified in his use of deadly force.

According to charging documents filed in Sangamon County Court, Grayson allegedly shot Massey in the face after the deputy “aggressively yelled” at her to put down a pot of boiling water and she threw it on a couch. Grayson then allegedly discouraged his partner from retrieving a medical kit to render aid to Massey because he allegedly thought the injuries were too severe to revive her, according to prosecutors. Court documents describe Massey as “calm, perhaps unwell, not aggressive” at the time that the deputies responded to her call for help.

According to the family’s attorney, Ben Crump, Massey struggled with her mental health.

The other deputy, who has not been named, proceeded to render aid anyway and stayed with Massey until paramedics arrived, the charging documents say. Grayson did not attempt to render aid, according to the documents.

Grayson only activated his body-worn camera after the shooting, according to the charges. The other deputy had activated his camera upon arriving at the scene, the charging documents say.

Grayson has had six different police jobs in the past four years, according to the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board. The longest job he has held lasted one year. It’s not clear why he changed jobs during that time span.

Massey’s father, James Wilburn, brought up the former deputy’s employment history during the funeral and called on Illinois lawmakers present to reform the hiring process for police officers and sheriff’s deputies. It’s not clear why he changed jobs during that time span.

“There was all these red flags and yet they still made him a deputy in this county,” Wilburn said. “State senator, introduce the bill tomorrow. You can call it the Sonya Massey bill.”

Crump delivered a call for justice at the funeral.

“We come to fight for justice for Sonya Massey,” he said, “We say to Deputy Sean Grayson: until we get justice, we rebuke you in the name of Jesus. We say to the Sangamon County Sheriff’s Department: until we get justice we rebuke you in the name of Jesus.”

“I rebuke you in the name of Jesus,” was one of the last things Massey said before Grayson shot her, according to Crump.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker released a statement saying that Massey deserved the protection that she called law enforcement to provide.

“My heart breaks for Sonya’s children, for her family and friends and for all who knew and loved her, and I am enraged that another innocent Black woman had her life taken from her at the hands of a police officer,” Pritzker’s statement says.

Grayson’s attorney, Dan Fultz, declined to comment.

ABC News’ Emily Chang contributed to this report.

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7 officers injured in police pursuit of vehicle linked to drive-by shooting: Officials

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(SPOKANE, Wash.) — A high-speed police pursuit that ended in a multi-vehicle crash in Washington state Friday left seven officers injured and three suspects in custody, according to officials.

The crash took place near the intersection of North Oak Street and West Carlisle Avenue in Spokane, police said.

All individuals involved in the crash, including the suspects, were taken to a nearby hospital for injuries, Spokane Interim Police Chief Justin Lundgren told reporters during a press briefing after the crash.

All of the officers are expected to make full recoveries, according to Lundgren, who notes the conditions of the suspects are not yet known.

Additionally, a canine that was in the pursuing police vehicle was transported to an emergency veterinary clinic, according to Lundgren, who said the dog is expected to make a full recovery.

Detailing how the high-speed pursuit began, Lundgren said Spokane police started tracking the suspected vehicle at approximately 1:00 p.m. local time as authorities were wrapping up an unrelated search warrant.

Lundgren said an officer recognized a suspect vehicle that was allegedly involved in a drive-by shooting that occurred days before.

Officers initiated a pursuit of that suspect vehicle through a residential neighborhood, according to Lundgren, who noted the car was driving at a high speed.

As the suspect vehicle was attempting to drive through an intersection, it collided with an assisting armored police vehicle, resulting in a crash, Lundgren said.

Subsequently, a pursuing police vehicle also crashed into the suspect vehicle, according to Lundgren.

No one was killed in the pursuit, Lundgren said, adding that a civilian vehicle was approaching behind the armored vehicle that fortunately stopped in time.

The intersection will be closed for several hours for the investigation, officials said.

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Enforcement of Louisiana’s Ten Commandment classroom requirement put on pause

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(BATON ROUGE, La.) — Louisiana’s new law requiring all public school classrooms display the Ten Commandments will not be publicly enforced or endorsed in any way until November 15, 2024, according to a new court filing in the ongoing legal battle over the policy.

Both parties agreed that the Ten Commandments will not be posted in any public school classroom and defendants — including the state’s Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education — and schools will not publicly move forward on the law’s implementation until November.

Lester Duhe, a spokesperson for the Louisiana Attorney General’s office, clarified that the defendants “agreed not to take public-facing compliance measures” until then because it will give time for “briefing, oral arguments and a decision” ahead of the January 2025 date in which schools have to have the Ten Commandments.

The January requirement still stands pending the outcome of the suit.

A multi-faith group of Louisiana families with children in public schools sued to challenge the law, HB 71, which mandates public schools — from kindergarten to the collegiate level — display the Ten Commandments, a religious set of rules from the Old Testament, in every classroom on “a poster or framed document that is at least 11 inches by 14 inches.”

The posters were expected to be paid for by private donations and not state dollars, according to the law, which does not disclose what would happen if a school does not comply with the order.

The suit argues that the law violates a U.S. Supreme Court precedent, pointing to the Stone v. Graham case in which the court overturned a similar state law, holding that the separation of church and state bars public schools from posting the Ten Commandments in classrooms.

The nine families — who are Jewish, Christian, Unitarian Universalist and nonreligious — also argue the law is religious coercion and violates their First Amendment rights: “Permanently posting the Ten Commandments in every Louisiana public school classroom – rendering them unavoidable – unconstitutionally pressures students into religious observance, veneration and adoption of the state’s favored religious scripture,” the complaint reads.

It continues, “It also sends the harmful and religiously divisive message that students who do not subscribe to the Ten Commandments — or, more precisely, to the specific version of the Ten Commandments that H.B. 71 requires schools to display — do not belong in their own school community and should refrain from expressing any faith practices or beliefs that are not aligned with the state’s religious preferences.”

The law argues that the Ten Commandments are also historically significant, reflecting “the understanding of the founders of our nation with respect to the necessity of civic morality to a functional self-government,” the text reads.

“If you want to respect the rule of law, you gotta start from the original lawgiver, which was Moses,” Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry said during a press conference where he signed a package of education bills.

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Judge declines to dismiss charges against George Santos in fraud case

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(NEW YORK) — A federal judge on Friday declined to dismiss criminal charges against former Rep. George Santos for alleged schemes that cost him his seat.

The judge denied Santos’ motion to dismiss certain fraud charges, ruling he failed to meet the legal standards.

The New York Republican who represented parts of Queen’s and Nassau County has pleaded not guilty to a host of charges accusing him of defrauding donors, lying to Congress and using campaign contributions for personal expenses.

Santos dropped his bid for reelection after he was expelled from the House in December.

Santos faces 23 felony charges, including two counts of wire fraud, two counts of making materially false statements to the Federal Election Commission, two counts of falsifying records submitted to obstruct the FEC, two counts of aggravated identity theft and one count of access device fraud, according to the United States Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York.

Two of Santos’ associates, his former campaign finance chief Nancy Marks and fundraiser Sam Miele, have already pleaded guilty to charges.

Santos had represented New York’s 3rd Congressional District since January 2020 before being expelled on Dec. 1, 2023, in a bipartisan vote.

Santos’ trial is scheduled for September.

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