Mendocino Complex Is Now California’s Seventh Largest Wildfire To Date

Menocino Complex California Wildfire
Noah Berger / AP

As firefighters work to quell the devastating Carr Fire, another wildfire raging in Mendocino County has become larger in size. According to The Weather Channel, the Mendocino Complex fire has destroyed 314 square miles thus far – making it the state’s seventh largest fire to date.

The Mendocino Complex is comprised of two wildfires – the Ranch fire and the River fire. The cause of them is unknown, but the Mendocino Complex now has “burned an area larger than New York City.” At least 55 homes have been destroyed, with potential property damage to another 12,300 buildings. Over 20,000 residents in Lake and Mendocino counties are currently being evacuated.

“This is a particularly dangerous situation with extremely low humidity and high winds. New fires will grow rapidly out of control, in some cases, people may not be able to evacuate safely in time should a fire approach,” wrote a local weather service in a bulletin for the Mendocino area.

While the River fire is currently 50 percent contained, the Ranch fire, which has burned over 200 acres, is only 27 percent contained.

Further north, the deadly Carr fire continues to rage. At present, six people have been killed in the fire, which officials say was caused by a flat tire. “From that spark, the so-called Carr Fire claimed the lives of six people and destroyed more than 1,500 structures, 1,000 of which were homes.” It has now become the sixth most destructive fire in the state’s history.

As the fire continues to rage, some residents have been allowed to return to their homes to review the damage.

“I’m waiting to probably break down any minute here. Pretty overwhelming. We pretty much lost everything,” said Carol Smith, as she surveyed the damage on her home. So far, more than 35,000 residents of the greater Shasta County area have been displaced from their homes. As of Saturday, the Carr fire is only 39 percent contained.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency and has requested aid from the White House.

“Whatever resources are needed, we’re putting them there. We’re being surprised. Every year is teaching the fire authorities new lessons. We’re in uncharted territory,” said Brown.

Additionally, the Ferguson fire rages near Yosemite National Park. So far, 114 miles have been scorched. Though it is 41 percent contained, there has been one fatality. Much of the park remains closed, something that has not happened since 1997 when the park flooded.

Jonathan Cox, the Fire Protection Battalion Chief and Information Officer for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said that the state has had wildfires before. “But these are impacting communities,” Cox said. “And they’re large fires, not small.”