How the Mendocino Complex fire became the largest in California history

Aaron Brown
August 8, 2018

The Mendocino Complex fire is now the largest wildfire in modern California history, scorching more than 283,000 acres and frustrating firefighters as it continues to leap across natural and man-made barriers in Lake County. The Ferguson Fire near Yosemite National Park has claimed two lives and closed the park indefinitely.

"Today a higher pressure system brought warmer weather, drying, and strong winds to the region", CalFire said in an update.

The Carr Fire to the north has meanwhile engulfed 167,113 acres since igniting July 23 and killing seven people thus far.

The two fires, the River and Ranch fires, burning a few miles apart and known as the Mendocino Complex are being treated as one incident. But officials say it threatens 11,300 buildings and some new evacuations were ordered over the weekend as the flames spread.

Catastrophic wildfires continue to ravage California, as one blaze almost doubled in size over the last three days, making it the largest in the state's history. Picture: AFP Photo / Noah Berger.

"I can remember a couple of years ago when we saw 10 to 12,000 firefighters in the states of California, Oregon and Washington and never the 14,000 we see now", he said. But tens of thousands of others were still evacuated.

Barely a third of it is under control, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It doesn't mean that the fires have necessarily joined - and in the case of the Mendocino Complex Fire, the River Fire and the Ranch Fire have yet to meet. "That doesn't happen. That just doesn't happen".

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.

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On Monday, another fast-moving fire ignited in the state - this time in Orange County, where firefighters battled the Holy Fire that expanded to more than 4,000 acres. Picture: Mario Tama / Getty Images / AFP. Numerous largest fires in state history were caused by humans.

"Evacuations are going to continue until is safe" Sheriff Brian Martin said Sunday, without specifying the number of people who had left their homes.

But fire crews made progress against the other blaze, which is now 78 percent contained.

Exhausted firefighters across the state are trying to contain 16 major fires that are burning in hot, dry and windy conditions.

"You name the fire, they've been on the fire, or they're being assigned to a new fire start [ing] in California", Davila said.

In a series of eyebrow-raising tweets President Donald Trump meanwhile suggested environmental laws - rather than climate change - was to blame for the spike in wildfires devastating parts of the west.

"It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean". The expansive fire is burning north of Clear Lake and through the Mendocino National Forest.

More than 27,500 USDA Forest Service firefighters are now tackling different wildfires around the US.

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