A massive wildfire erupted in California this past weekend, burning thousands of acres and destroying hundreds of homes. While firefighters have increased containment, the fire continues to grow.
The Valley Fire began burning on Saturday afternoon near Cobb, California, located less than 100 miles north of San Francisco.
As of Wednesday morning, 603 homes and hundreds of other structures have been claimed by the Valley Fire with an additional 7,650 structures being threatened, according to CAL Fire.
One of the reasons why it has burned so many structures is the rapid expansion of the fire within the first 24 hours of igniting and its close proximity to communities. By Sunday, the wildfire had grown to over 30,000 acres, giving some people just minutes to evacuate their homes.
If the Valley Fire destroys over 954 structures, it would be ranked as one of the top-five most destructive wildfires in California history.
The Valley Fire has already become the most destructive wildfire this year across the western United States despite being far from the largest fire.
As of Wednesday morning, the Valley Fire was ranked as the ninth most destructive wildfire in California's history.
However, CAL Fire's chief of public information said during Wednesday's situation report that it is likely that the Valley Fire will be in the top five most destructive fires in the state's history by the time it is extinguished.
The most destructive fire in the state's history was the Tunnel Fire in 1991 that burned only 1,600 acres but destroyed 2,900 structures and led to 25 fatalities.
It is unlikely that the Valley Fire will be this destructive before it is entirely contained, but when structures such as barns and sheds are accurately counted, the total number of structures destroyed will likely climb to near 1,000.
The Butte Fire, another massive wildfire currently burning in California, is not far behind the Valley Fire on this list, currently ranked as the 14th most destructive fire in California's history.
Additionally, the Rough Fire, located east of Fresno, California, has burned over 140,000 acres, making it the 16th largest wildfire in the history of California.
More than 2,700 people are working to stop the Valley Fire, and they have been making noticeable progress. Personnel battling the blaze have been able to increase containment to 30 percent, according to CAL Fire, a noticeable increase from the zero percent containment over the weekend.
The weather has helped contribute to the increase in containment with temperatures falling from near 90 F this past weekend down into the 70s on Wednesday.
However, the cooler weather is not here to stay.
"Temperatures will begin climbing back up on Thursday, but the winds do not look like they will pick up much," AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey said.
"In fact, despite the heat climbing this weekend, the winds are expected to remain calm. So, while daytime fire activity could be intense, the rate of spread looks manageable," Duffey continued.
So far there has been one fatality and four injuries due to the fire, with the cause of the fire still under investigation.
Farmers and ranchers who have been affected by the wildfires in the West this year are able to get assistance from the USDA and the FSA.
People around active wildfires should avoid flying hobby drones to get a bird's-eye view of the fire and the damage left behind.
In a public service announcement by CAL fire, they said "Because of this potential for collision, when a UAS is detected flying over or near a wildfire, air operations must be suspended until all drones flying in a fire area are removed."
This delays the operations being carried out by fire crews and will slow down the containment process of the wildfires.
#valleyfire one last look at our Middletown home before evacuation pic.twitter.com/RNULhGNwOp— Kelli Chase (@pathologicdoc) September 13, 2015
This is right next to townhomes that were spared from the #ValleyFire in Middletown @KFBK pic.twitter.com/qQOvH4GtUw— Ryan Harris KFBK (@RyanHarrisKFBK1) September 16, 2015
Sea of @PGE4Me trucks in #Middletown. Crews working to repair major infrastructure damage. #ValleyFire pic.twitter.com/xdY0BjTRWp— Lilian Kim (@liliankim7) September 16, 2015