2020 in photos: San Diego’s top stories of the year


SAN DIEGO — With the new year quickly approaching, here’s a look back at some of the photos that defined 2020 in San Diego.

San Diegans shocked, saddened by death of Kobe Bryant

The Cardiff Kook dons a Kobe Bryant jersey shortly after the basketball legend’s death. (Photo: Keli Button)

Jan. 26: News that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people were killed in a helicopter crash sent a shockwave through generations of Southern Californians who had watched the basketball legend play. In San Diego, the Cardiff Kook donned a Bryant jersey, and fans shared their favorite memories.

Coronavirus evacuees quarantined at MCAS Miramar

Crews that cleaned the coronavirus quarantine quarters at MCAS Miramar wear special suits as they prepare to work. (Photo: Yu Lin)

Feb. 4: More than 200 people who fled Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, were quarantined at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, at a time when San Diego residents had only just begun to understand the virus’ threat.

California issues statewide stay-at-home order

Streets in San Diego's once-bustling Gaslamp Quarter have been deserted during the coronavirus pandemic, and bars and restaurants have been forced to close.
A drone photo shows San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter during the coronavirus pandemic’s stay-at-home order.

March 19: With the pandemic quickly worsening, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a stay-at-home order for the entire state of California. The coming weeks and months saw a series of partial openings and closures, with most businesses asked to close indoor operations, schools shifting online and many workers adjusting to working from home.

Local protests call for end to virus restrictions

Demonstrators hold signs demanding their church be allowed to reopen during a rally against stay-at-home directives in San Diego. (Photo by SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

April 18: Demonstrators gathered for multiple local rallies to express frustration with the state’s stay-at-home order. Many emphasized the financial stress of closed businesses and lost jobs, while others said the state was overstepping its authority. Health officials said they understood the frustrations, but that the orders were saving lives and keeping hospitals from getting overwhelmed.

Protesters rally for racial justice across San Diego

Demonstrators face off with officers in front of the San Diego Police headquarters in downtown San Diego on May 31, 2020 in a protest about the death of George Floyd. (Photo by ARIANA DREHSLER/AFP via Getty Images)

May 30: Following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, protests against racial injustice and calls for police reform spread across the nation, including San Diego County. Local protesters held signs, shouted chants, blocked freeways and hosted “kneel-ins” in their demand for change.

Rioters torch and loot buildings in La Mesa

A person wears a gas mask as they stand before a burning vehicle during the La Mesa riots. The chaos came after a day of peaceful protest over the death of George Floyd by many other demonstrators. (Photo: OnScene.TV)

May 31: A day of largely peaceful protest gave way to a night of chaos and destruction in La Mesa, where rioters shattered windows with baseball bats, stole merchandise, lit bank branches on fire and threw debris at police. In the days that followed, the community rallied to repair the destruction and get businesses back on their feet.

Massive Navy ship fire sends smoke across county

Smoke rises from the USS Bonhomme Richard at Naval Base San Diego in San Diego, after an explosion and fire onboard the ship In this July 12, 2020, file photo. The Navy says on Monday that it will decommission the warship after suspected arson caused extensive damage, making it too expensive to restore. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy, File)

July 12: The USS Bonhomme Richard went up in flames at Naval Base San Diego, injuring 17 sailors and four civilians. As it burned for several days, it poured acrid smoke across the region, prompting air quality warnings. An investigation into the suspected cause — arson — continues into the new year. The ship will be decommissioned at a cost of about $30 million.

Marines, sailor killed in Camp Pendleton training accident

A U.S. Marine takes a knee to honor the fallen after a memorial service at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Aug. 21, 2020. The service was held in remembrance of the eight Marines and one sailor who died in an assault amphibious vehicle accident off the coast of San Clemente Island, California, July 30. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jennessa Davey)

July 30: A training exercise in an amphibious assault vehicle from Camp Pendleton turned deadly when the vessel started taking on water and sunk to the bottom of the sea, killing eight U.S. Marines and one Navy sailor. After an extensive search, the remains of the service members were finally recovered. The deadly accident led to the firing of a Marine Corps commander.

Destructive Valley Fire rips through East County

San Miguel County Firefighters battle a brush fire along Japatul Road during the Valley Fire in Jamul, California on September 6, 2020. (Photo by SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

Sept. 5: A wildfire dubbed the Valley Fire exploded in East County, destroying homes, forcing residents to flee their neighborhoods and burning thousands of acres. It came in the midst of a brutal fire season across California, where the challenge of evacuations was compounded by the coronavirus pandemic. In the end, the Valley Fire burned more than 16,000 acres, and San Diego qualified for federal disaster assistance.

Ascendant Padres give San Diego something to celebrate

SAN DIEGO, CA – AUGUST 19: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres, right, is congratulated by Manny Machado #13 of the San Diego Padres after hitting a solo home run during the third inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers at Petco Park on August 19, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

Sept. 20: An electric team, led by rising star Fernando Tatis Jr., captured the city’s heart on their way to the San Diego Padres’ first playoff berth in 14 long years. Though the Friars lost in the National League Division Series, they now have the young core to compete for years: both Tatis and third-baseman Manny Machado finished top-five in MVP voting.

A Halloween like no other

A child wearing a mask reaches for a bag of candy at a drive-thru trick-or-treating event hosted by the La Mesa Police Department, after many parents kept their kids home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Oct. 30: Hard for many to imagine at the start of the year, the coronavirus pandemic was far from gone by Halloween, instead entering a fierce new phase. That meant large gatherings were off the table, and parents had to find creative ways to keep the trick-or-treating magic alive.

San Diegans take to the streets after historic election

A celebration erupted in San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood as news broke of President-elect Joe Biden’s projected win.

Nov. 7: In so many ways, the November presidential election was unprecedented: In the many days of voting before Nov. 4, the lack of a clear outcome on Election Day or even the next morning, and in President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede even after the race was widely called for his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden. When the Associated Press called the race for Biden that Saturday, supporters of the president-elect burst into the streets of San Diego in celebration.

Mysterious monolith appears in San Diego

A monolith appeared in Scripps Ranch in December, the latest in a series of similar structures that have popped up around the world throughout the winter.

Dec. 8: So, what was the deal with those monoliths, anyway? Mysterious metal structures popped up across the globe throughout the winter, and San Diego got one of its own. The silver structure was spotted next to stores off Scripps Poway Parkway. Later, a band of young people removed the installation and carried it off, promising it would re-appear elsewhere. It …. has been a strange year.

Firefighters, ‘Santa’ save the day in Christmas Eve wildfire

The Creek Fire burns in North County on Christmas Eve, threatening housing on Camp Pendleton and in the community of Fallbrook. In the end, firefighters kept the blaze from damaging any structures. (Photo: Cal Fire)

Dec. 24: A wildfire dubbed the Creek Fire forced Camp Pendleton military families and some Fallbrook residents to leave home on Christmas Eve, yet another example of tradition upended in 2020. Firefighters worked tirelessly through the holiday to protect homes and tame the flames enough for families to return, and “Santa” himself popped up in a video recorded at the military base to assure the kids that the holiday could continue.

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