The Ranch and River Fires began as two separate incidents in Lake County, but they quickly joined together to create the largest fire in California’s history – The Mendocino Complex Fire. Now, firefighters are close to bringing it to 100 percent containment.
Fire officials announced Sunday that firefighters are working to contain the last section of the Ranch Fire, patrolling so-called “firelines” and conducting suppression repairs. The fire is currently 98 percent contained, and announcement of full containment is expected at any moment.
There are about 670 miles of fireline that still need suppression repair work, officials said. This refers to cutting down dangerous trees, reducing dirt berms, spreading out cut vegetation and building water bars.
The Mendocino Complex Fire has wreaked havoc on four counties in Northern California since it began on July 27. The fire burned a whopping 460,000 acres, destroying 280 structures, including 157 homes. It sits atop the list of largest California wildfires by a large margin, with the second biggest being last year’s Thomas Fire in Ventura County at 281,000 acres.
Lake County has become the epicenter of wildfires in the United States. Since 2012, 53 percent of the county has burned which includes 475,000 acres in 2018. Earlier this year, the Pawnee Fire burned through 15,000 acres, destroying 22 structures and evacuating multiple communities. Many of those same communities were evacuated just over a month later for the Mendocino Complex Fire, which burned all the way to the charred areas of the Pawnee Fire.
Just two years ago, the Clayton Fire blazed through the Lower Lake area, burning 4,000 acres and destroying 300 structures, including a 150-year-old church and a Habitat for Humanity office. In 2015, three fires burned the area including the Valley Fire, which destroyed more than 1,300 homes and killed at least four people.
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.