Aug 10, 2018

Three of California’s Biggest Fires Ever Are Burning Right Now

Mt Shasta, CA
USA
by
Tim Wallace, Ash Ngu, Denise Lu and Matthew Bloch
,
New York Times
Image: The New York Times, with data from the United States Geological Survey and CalFire
Image: The New York Times, with data from the United States Geological Survey and CalFire

California is in the middle of yet another record-breaking fire season with 820,000 acres across the state already burned — more than twice the area that burned by this point last year.

In the northern part of the state, the Mendocino Complex Fire has grown to more than 300,000 acres, becoming the largest fire ever recorded in California. In fact, three of the largest California fires since 2000 are burning right now.

In addition to the Mendocino Fire, firefighters are battling two more massive blazes in other rural parts of the state. The Carr Fire, near Mount Shasta, has burned more than a thousand homes and caused eight deaths, according to CalFire. And the Ferguson Fire, near Yosemite National Park, is the largest fire in Sierra National Forest history.

“The trends are pretty astounding in terms of the number of acres burned, the length of the wildfire season, the numbers of structures lost,” said Kelly Pohl, a research analyst with Headwaters Economics, a nonprofit research group that helps communities develop wildfire plans. “If you look at the trends over several decades, they’ve all gone up.”

In California, 15 of the 20 largest fires in state history have burned since 2000. The state is “a bit like a canary in a coal mine,” Ms. Pohl said. “We are also going to see the same trend across other states in the country in the future.”