California Wildfire Now Largest In State History


On Monday the Pentagon said it would send 200 soliders to assist firefighters in fending off the flames, many of which have encroached on federal lands.

The raging Mendocino Complex fire comprised of twin blazes in the western state's north ravaged more than 290,000 acres (117,359 hectares) - approximately the size of sprawling Los Angeles - in less than two weeks, becoming California's largest wildfire ever recorded since bookkeeping began a century ago.

It was the second fire to break records in the fire-prone, most populous USA state in as many years, following the Thomas Fire in December 2017, which destroyed 281,893 acres. They haven't merged yet, but they are close enough to each other that officials from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection are counting them as one huge wildfire.

Total containment for the complex has improved slightly to 34 percent, Cal Fire said.

The Mendocino Complex has burned 75 homes and forced thousands to be evacuated.

Frisco Fire Battalion Chief Shannon Brinton will be serving as the TIFMAS Northeast Branch coordinator for the deployment, which is expected to last 14 days.

Three of the largest wildfires in California's history have occurred in the past 12 months.

The size of the fires surpasses a blaze last December in Southern California that burned 281,893 acres.It killed two people, including a firefighter, and destroyed more than 1,000 buildings before being fully contained on January 12. That includes a great-grandmother and her two great-grandchildren, all of whom died in their Redding, Calif., home as a result of the Carr Fire.

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More than 14,000 firefighters were battling the blazes across the state.

"Let's be clear: It's our changing climate that is leading to more severe and destructive fires", said Cal Fire spokesman Mike Mohler. Mandatory evacuations are still in place for areas in Lake, Colusa, and Mendocino County.

The fires in Northern California have created such a haze of smoke in the Central Valley that Sacramento County health officials advised residents to avoid outdoor activities for the entire week.

After igniting in a relatively small area on Monday afternoon it mushroomed to 4,000 acres and was not contained at all as of Tuesday morning, according to the US Forest Service.

The rustic lodge 180 miles east of San Francisco is nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains and offers cabin and motel rentals along with RV sites, a store and restaurant.

It's unclear whether Trump's call for tree clearing "to stop fire from spreading" referred to creating fire lines by felling trees (a common and effective firefighting strategy) or to the mistaken notion that cutting down the nation's forests is a good way to restore them to a healthier, more fire-resistant condition.

A man watches the Thomas Fire in the hills above Carpinteria, California, December 11, 2017.