Mendocino Complex Fire in California Is Now Largest in Modern State History


A fire raging in Northern California has become the largest in modern state history, the state’s fire agency said on Monday.

The Mendocino Complex Fire, which is burning northwest of Sacramento, topped 283,000 acres on Monday, making it the most sizable California fire in a century of record-keeping.

“It’s not a good sign,” said Lynne Tolmachoff, a spokeswoman for Cal Fire.

She noted that the state was only in the middle of its fire season, with the worst fires often occurring later in the year, as the land becomes increasingly dry and weather patterns create windy conditions. “We’ve got a long road ahead,” she said.

The Mendocino Complex Fire overtook last year’s Thomas Fire, which ate up nearly 282,000 acres.

Despite its size, no one has died in the Mendocino Complex Fire, Ms. Tolmachoff said. It has destroyed about 140 structures. By contrast, the Carr Fire, which is also burning in Northern California, has killed seven people and destroyed more than 1,600 buildings. It is the 12th largest in California history, at about 164,000 acres.

The Mendocino Complex Fire is a combination of two fires that ignited a few miles apart, Ms. Tolmachoff said. In instances where multiple blazes are close enough together and affect the same area, she said, officials consider them one fire, called a complex. Officials are investigating the cause of the fire, which was 30 percent contained as of late Monday.

Of the top 20 largest wildfires in California, about half have come in the last decade, according to Cal Fire.

“That says a lot about the way things are changing in California,” Ms. Tolmachoff said.

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