Casiah Cagan | Report
On Monday, Northern California’s 11-day-old twin wildfires were named the largest in modern state history by California fire officials.
The Mendocino Complex Fire began on Jul. 27, 2018 and has since grown to occupy 283,900 acres of land in California’s Mendocino, Lake, and Colusa Counties.
It has officially surpassed the size of last year’s Thomas Fire, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The Thomas Fire, which burned from Dec. 7, 2017 to Jan. 12, 2018, scorched approximately 281,900 acres of land, consuming over 1000 structures and costing the state of California $74 million USD to contain. The Thomas fire, though smaller, was more destructive to surrounding buildings than the Complex Fire, which has destroyed less than 200 structures thus far.
The Complex Fire is composed of two neighbouring fires: River and Ranch. While the River fire is believed to be 58 percent contained, its much larger counterpart is only 21 percent contained and is continuing to grow rapidly.
The River and Ranch Fires have not merged, but they are being officially counted as a single fire in records.
Evacuation orders and other warnings still remain in effect in select areas Northern California as the fire progresses, though officials let some residents return to their homes Sunday and Monday in areas that have been declared safe. These residents, however, are advised to stay inside their homes due to the levels of smoke still present in the air.
Nearly 4,000 people are battling the wildfire, whose cause remains unknown, though it is speculated that high temperatures and extreme dryness are to blame.
Fire officials say that the Mendocino Complex Fire as a whole is approximately 30 percent contained, and they are estimating that it should by fully contained by Aug. 15.
More details to follow. Image of the California wildfire from AP Photo/Gregory Bull.