Northern California blazes now largest in state history

Collectively dubbed the Mendocino Complex, the wildfires have burned through 283,800 acres (114,850 hectares) - an area almost the size of the sprawling city of Los Angeles - and are just 30 percent contained, according to state fire authority CalFire.

The fast-moving inferno, sparked Friday, July 27 in Northern California, has now scorched 290,692 acres and is just 34% contained, according to California's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

"We broke the record", said Scott McLean, a deputy chief with Cal Fire.

California's biggest wildfire on record was expected to burn for the rest of the month, fire officials said on Tuesday, as hot and windy conditions challenged thousands of fire crews battling eight major blazes burning out of control across the state.

The size of the fire has surpassed that of last year's Thomas Fire, which burned 281,893 acres in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties and destroyed more than 1,000 structures. The fire surrounds Clear Lake, which is the largest freshwater lake in the state, a vital habitat for fish and other wildfire and a spot for water sports enthusiasts. Despite decades of warnings about the dangers of building new homes in fire-prone areas, more than a third of the houses built in the United States since 2000 have been in these areas.

The Carr Fire has been blamed for seven deaths, including a 21-year-old Pacific Gas and Electric Company lineman Jay Ayeta, whom the company said on Sunday was killed in a vehicle crash as he worked with crews in unsafe terrain.

Wind swept flames from the Ranch fire threaten the town of Nice near Upper Lake, California, on August 3, 2018. One firefighter has been injured, according to Cal Fire, but the severity of the injury is unclear.

The fire is now raging at the southern tip of the Mendocino National Forest, where crews are battling to keep flames from descending into foothill communities.

Another blaze that erupted last week has damaged a historic Northern California resort in the Stanislaus National Forest.

The Mendocino Complex Fire is comprised of two twin fires: the River Fire and the Ranch Fire.

The fires are being blamed on scorching temperatures, but could be out by August 15.

Of the two fires that makeup the Mendocino Complex Fire, the River Fire, which has burned over 48,000 acres, has the largest containment, sitting at 58 percent contained.

Late Monday, the wildfires known as the Mendocino Complex, became the state's largest wildfire in history. Seventy five residences have been destroyed.

"It's unprecedented in these seven communities", Lake County Supervisors Chairman Jim Steele told KTVU, "having all of these shoreline communities evacuated, everyone is nervous about getting back in".

At 273,664 acres burned, the Mendocino Complex Fire now sits at number two of California's largest wildfires.

  • Jon Douglas