It’s Official: Mendocino Complex Fire is the Largest Fire in California History

Updated August 6th – 9 pm:

It’s official – The Mendocino Complex Fire has grown to become the largest in California’s history.

The fire has continued to grow rapidly and has now reached 283,000 acres, surpassing the Thomas fire, which burned through more than 281,000 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties late last year.

“We broke the record,” Scott McLean, a deputy chief with Cal Fire, told the LA Times. “That’s one of those records you don’t want to see.”

For all of the information on the Mendocino Complex Fire, see the original article below:

Original Article from August 6th:

The Mendocino Complex Fire continues to grow at a rapid rate, now consuming 273,000 acres throughout Colusa, Lake and Mendocino Counties. The high-winds and extreme heat have caused the fire to grow even more erratic over the last few days, and it may soon find its place in California wildfire history.

The fire, which consists of the very close River and Ranch Fires, currently sits near 30 percent containment. While it’s currently the second biggest fire in California history in terms of acreage, it’s quickly approaching the top spot, needing only 9,000 acres more to be California’s largest ever. The fire grew 50,000 acres in just one night on Friday.




“It is extremely fast, extremely aggressive, extremely dangerous,” said Scott McLean, a deputy chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection told to LA Times. “Look how big it got, just in a matter of days.… Look how fast this Mendocino Complex went up in ranking. That doesn’t happen. That just doesn’t happen.”

The extreme spread of fires this year can be attributed to explosively flammable vegetation, warm overnight temperatures and the lingering effect of years of drought.

The largest fire in California history happened just last October, when the Thomas Fire burned over 281,000 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. The Mendocino Complex Fire is in a much more rural area, only destroying 130 structures so far, although it continues to threaten 9,200 more. The Thomas Fire destroyed over a thousand.



The past 10 months in California has produced some of the largest and most destructive fires in its recorded history. Four of the top eight most destructive fires (determined by number of structures burned) have all happened since October 2017, including the devastating Carr Fire, which recently burned over 1,600 structures in Shasta County and continues to burn today. The most destructive fire in history, Sonoma’s Tubbs Fire, burned 5,600 structures in October of last year.

More than 15,000 firefighters are battling 18 large wildfires across the state that have burned more than 559,000 acres and are threatening 17,000 homes. As of a week ago, Cal Fire crews had responded to 330 more wildland fires so far this year than by this time last year.




The Ferguson Fire continues to grow in Yosemite National Park, reaching over 90,000 acres and growing. The Carr Fire has burned 163,000 acres but containment has been significant over the week, growing to 45 percent.

These massive Northern California fires have been crippling to communities and are expected to cost the state much more than was budgeted. The worst part? Fire season is just getting started and tends to have it’s biggest incidents in October. This historic fire may be just the tip of the iceberg.

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