California’s Mendocino Complex Fire Is Now the Fifth Largest in State History

“This is part of a trend, a new normal.”

A 747 Global Airtanker makes a fire retardant drop in front of advancing flames from a wildfire in Lakeport, Calif., last Thursday. Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

By Sunday morning, the fierce Northern California blazes known as the Mendocino Complex fire had devoured 254,000 acres, making it the fifth largest in state history, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire). The fires, which are burning about 100 miles north of San Francisco, have destroyed 68 residences and now threaten 15,300 structures, the agency said in a Sunday morning update. The Mendocino fires have caused no deaths so far.

There are 17 major brush fires raging across California, the Los Angeles Times reports. Gov. Jerry Brown said that fighting more blazes was “a new normal” for California when he visited a fire command center on Saturday.

The Mendocino Complex fire is comprised of two fires that are burning in separate directions on both sides of Clear Lake in Lake County. Firefighters appear to be making some progress. “Crews had good success increasing containment on the River fire and containment lines were holding well,” Cal Fire said about one of the two fires in a statement released on Saturday night. The River fire is 58 percent contained, compared to just 23 percent for the much larger Ranch fire. 

Further north, the Carr fire has consumed 154,000 acres and is now the 15th largest fire in California history. Despite being smaller than the Mendocino fires, the Carr fire has claimed six lives and destroyed about 1,600 structures. It was threatening another 1,229 structures as of Saturday morning. 

In December, the Thomas fire surpassed to the Cedar fire to become the largest fire in California history, burning 281,000 acres. The Mendocino Complex fire is now only 27,000 acres short of surpassing that record.

Cal Fire says four of the five largest fires in California history have now occurred in the past six years.

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate