Mendocino Complex fires become largest in California history

Two wildfires blazing in California, known as the Mendocino Complex fire, became the largest recorded in state history on Monday, crossing a grim milestone.

The fire, in Colusa, Lake and Mendocino counties, has burned almost 283,800 acres as of Monday. It has destroyed at least 143 structures, including 75 homes, according to Cal Fire officials. More than 9,000 structures remain under threat.

The Mendocino complex fires, which encompass an area the size of Los Angeles, surpassed the Thomas wildfire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, which burned 281,893 acres last year.


The Northern California fires are burning a few miles apart and have been ablaze since July 27, officials said.

Hotter weather attributed to climate change is drying out vegetation, creating more intense fires that spread quickly from rural areas to city subdivisions, climate and fire experts say. But they also blame cities and towns that are expanding housing into previously undeveloped areas.

More than 14,000 firefighters are battling over a dozen major blazes throughout California, a state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman said.

Crews made progress over the weekend against one of the two Mendocino Complex fires with help from water-dropping aircraft, Cal Fire operations chief Charlie Blankenheim said online.

The other fire, however, is growing after spreading into the Mendocino National Forest.

The complex of fires has been less destructive to property than some of the other wildfires in the state because it is mostly raging in remote areas. New evacuations were ordered over the weekend, however, as the flames spread throughout the area.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.