Publication Date August 8, 2018

California's Mendocino Complex Grows Even More After Setting State Record

United States
Fifteen year-old Alex Schenck carries a water bucket while fighting to save his home as the Ranch Fire tears down New Long Valley Rd near Clearlake Oaks, California, on Saturday, August 4, 2018. Noah Berger, AFP/Getty Images

A 457-square-mile complex of fires that, together, became the largest wildfire in California history has continued to grow amid dangerous conditions in Northern California.

The so-called Mendocino Complex, which has torched land in Mendocino, Colusa and Lake counties, has burned an area nearly the size of Los Angeles. Monday, night, the fire's size surpassed last December's Thomas Fire, which burned more than 440 square miles in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, claiming more than 1,000 structures and one life.

There are at least 18 major fires currently burning throughout California, authorities said.

Nearly 20,000 people were ordered to evacuate in Lake and Mendocino counties as the blazes encroached on several towns surrounding Clear Lake. Evacuations were expanded in neighboring Glenn and Colusa counties, including an area just east of the boundary of Mendocino National Forest.

The Mendocino Complex has destroyed at least 75 homes, 68 other structures and threatens 10,300 buildings, Cal Fire said. It is 34 percent contained.

Authorities are investigating what caused the fires.


Crews Make Gains on Carr Fire

Although it's still less than half contained, firefighters are getting increased containment on the Carr Fire, which has been burning in and around the city of Redding, some 150 miles north of Sacramento, for two weeks.

The city has launched an interactive map that gives residents a chance to view images of their neighborhood to see which homes are still standing and which were destroyed by the blaze.

The Carr Fire has been blamed for seven deaths. Officials said a utility worker, identified as Jairus Ayeta, died Saturday in a vehicle-related accident while working to restore power in an area impacted by the blaze, according to the Associated Press.

The wildfire has destroyed nearly 1,600 structures, 1,077 of which are homes. Nearly 1,000 structures are still threatened by the blaze.

The inferno reportedly started when a tire blew on a tractor-trailer, which caused a spark as the rim of the tire struck the asphalt, CNN said.

The Carr Fire is now the sixth most destructive wildfire in state history, according to Cal Fire records. It's also the 13th-deadliest and 12th-largest wildfire the Golden State has seen since records began.

The inferno was 47 percent contained as of Tuesday, according to Cal Fire. It has burned at least 268 square miles of land, an area larger than the city of Chicago. More than 38,000 people were forced to evacuate because of the fire, the AP reported.

On Saturday, California Gov. Jerry Brown toured the region and asked President Donald Trump to declare a major disaster.