Mendocino fire has become California’s largest ever
Two blazes that began burning through Northern California late last month have grown at breathtaking speed to form a massive inferno that has now set a new mark for destruction.
The twin wildfires, collectively known as the Mendocino Complex Fire, have together more than doubled in size in the past four days and burned through 290,692 acres, or 454 square miles, of parched land — an area almost the size of Los Angeles.
By Monday night, the Mendocino Complex Fire had earned an infamous distinction, becoming the largest wildfire ever recorded in the state, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.
It has now surpassed the Thomas Fire that burned nearly 282,000 acres of land in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties late last year and the Cedar Fire that killed 15 people in San Diego County 15 years ago.
“We broke the record,” Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “That’s one of those records you don’t want to see.”
As wildfires ravaged the Golden State, President Trump weighed in with tweets that puzzled fire experts and seemed to point fingers not at the toll of climate change, but at California’s environmental laws and use of water resources.
The Mendocino Complex Fire showed little sign of slowing Tuesday. Fueled by low humidity, triple-digit temperatures and winds blowing across wide swaths of tinder-dry vegetation, the conflagration has expanded to three counties northwest of Sacramento, surrounded a river and parts of neighboring reservoirs, and destroyed and damaged dozens of homes and other structures.