The largest wildfire in Northern California’s history burned for 55 days across 459,123 acres (720 miles) before it was declared 100 percent contained, reported the Huffington Post.
Dubbed the Mendocino Complex Fire, it consisted of two separate blazes called the River fire and Ranch fire, which started in July. The fires spanned four counties: Mendocino, Colusa, Lake, and Glenn.
Their origins are unknown, but theories range from sparking fire lines to arson.
Thousands of residents were evacuated, according to the Sacramento Bee.
1. 55 days later, the #MendocinoComplex Fires are 100 percent contained. The largest fires in California history, the blazes burned 459,123 acres & destroyed 157 homes. Extreme gratitude to all fire fighters & emergency personnel for their tireless work over these past many weeks
— Mike McGuire (@ilike_mike) September 19, 2018
Firefighters from hundreds of miles away joined the efforts, driving their engines up for week-long shifts before returning home.
Over 400 firefighters stayed in the area to continue monitoring the resulting erosion and damage, both from the fire and fire suppression techniques, the U.S. Forest Service said in a press release.
Much of the area remains closed while clean up efforts continue.
“Some of the hazards in the closed area include burned standing trees or snags, exposed rebar stakes, logs and rocks that may become loose, and burned-out stump holes,” the press release read. “The repair work has to be done before areas can be reopened to the public.”
Along with the destruction of 280 buildings, including homes, four civilians were injured and one firefighter lost his life.
Due to a high pressure system, combined smoke from several burns in August carried to surrounding neighboring counties. During this time, the San Francisco Bay Area’s Air Quality Index was found to be 152, qualifying as “unhealthy,” according to the SF Gate.
California broke another record of deadliest fire in 2018 with the nearby Carr Fire. Sparked by a malfunctioning trailer, over 500 firefighters fought the inferno for nearly a month. The aftermath left about 1,079 homes destroyed and eight people dead, reported the Los Angeles Times.
The Urban-Wildland Interface (UWI), or where residential areas meet heavy forests, is often where wildfires are most likely to start. The National Institute of Standards and Technology estimates that there are approximately 46 million homes built in the UWI, said Gizmodo.
The fires in California have been increasingly destructive in recent years. Gizmodo revealed that wildfire season is 105 days longer than it was in the 1970s. Climate change, lack of natural fire suppression methods such as controlled burning, and human movement into rural and woodland area creating UWIs are all resulting in more risk for fire than ever.
While Northern California’s flames may be contained, other areas in the state are not safe yet.
Southern California’s worst wildfires often occur late in the year after the Diablo and Santa Ana winds start, which fuel hot and dry air into the region, reported Gizmodo.
The year 2017 was the most destructive wildfire season on record, with nearly 9,000 wildfires observed.
After the devastating season the north has had so far in 2018, firefighters are staying vigilant and prepared in the south.