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AM Sacramento: Here’s what you need to know for Thursday

Good morning. Here’s what you need to know today:

Some cooling: A six-day string of high temperatures in the mid-90s is likely to be snapped today with the National Weather Service forecasting slight cooling in Sacramento. The high today is expected to 86 degrees. That’s a welcome change, but not exactly fall-like weather. That autumnal feeling won’t come until next week when temperatures are predicted to drop into the 70s.

Crews fight Placer fire: A fire that started along eastbound Interstate 80 damaged or destroyed several structures, forced evacuations of rural neighborhoods and closed that portion of the freeway for several hours Wednesday afternoon near the Placer County communities of Weimar and Applegate. The Applegate fire was reported 10 percent contained at 380 acres Wednesday night, but evacuations remained in effect this morning. Eastbound I-80 from Applegate to Weimar Cross Road is reduced to one lane as fire crews work alongside the highway Thursday.

Ruling may be issued today: A tentative ruling could be issued today in two lawsuits challenging the new Sacramento Kings arena on environmental grounds. A Sacramento Superior Court judge will hold a combined trial in the two cases Friday, but might provide a preliminary sense of his leanings ahead of time. Two groups protesting the $477 million project both filed suit under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA. One group, led by retired Caltrans director Adriana Saltonstall, is trying to halt the project outright, outraged by the City Council’s decision in late May to contribute a $255 million subsidy. A second group, the Sacramento Coalition for Shared Prosperity, appears more interested in getting the Kings to commit to spending $40 million on affordable housing in the vicinity of Downtown Plaza, site of the new arena.

Defense begins: The defense opened its case in the murder trial of Todd Winkler on Wednesday, taking on the challenge of winning an acquittal or leniency for the former Air Force fighter pilot who has admitted he killed his wife and did so knowingly. Defense lawyer David Weiner, who had delayed his opening trial statement until Wednesday, said there was much more to the story of Winkler fatally stabbing his wife, Rachel, 37, with a pair of scissors in their Cameron Park house on Feb. 27, 2012.

State correctional officer arrested: An employee of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation was one of five people arrested Wednesday following an eight-month investigation into marijuana cultivation activities in Sacramento. Eddie Lay, 32, was arrested on suspicion of cultivating marijuana for sale. Over the course of eight months, investigators with the Police Department’s criminal intelligence unit, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department Narcotics Gang Investigation Team and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Office of Internal Affairs worked together to identify Lay as the officer involved in the marijuana cultivation case, police said.

Strong support: The campaign behind a measure on the November ballot to give Sacramento’s mayor more power announced Wednesday that it had won the backing former Sacramento city manager Ray Kerridge, and Bruce Rudd and Naomi Kelly, the top appointed executives in Fresno and San Francisco, respectively.

Local sports: NBA – Nik Stauskas may be a rookie, but his offense, ability to adjust make him a threat for the Sacramento Kings, writes Bee columnist Ailene Voisin.

Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers (preseason), 7:30 (NBA-TV).

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