August 8th, 2018
The Mendocino Complex Fire currently devastating an area almost the size of Los Angeles is the largest in California’s history.
The surface area burned this year has doubled in comparison to the usual average in California, with 117,000 hectares (290,000 acres) destroyed in this fire alone.
The Mendocino Complex Fire was initially two different fires which started on 27 July and combined together. It has destroyed woodlands in Colusa, Lake and Mendocino counties.
Almost one-third of the blaze is now contained. No deaths have been declared so far and 75 homes were destroyed. The cause of the fire is under investigation according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
“Weather was a big factor today and due to the winds aloft covering the fire area in smoke, it caused lower than predicted temperatures… Tonight fire crews will continue to take advantage of the lower temperatures to increase containment lines,” reads a department statement released last night.
The wildfires have burned more land earlier in the fire season than usual, said Cal Fire Director, Chief Ken Pimlott during a news conference on Saturday.
“Fire season is really just beginning. What seems like we should be in the peak of fire season, historically, is really now the kind of conditions we’re seeing really at the beginning,” he added.
CBS news correspondent Steve Futterman told RTE’s Morning Ireland this week that the fire is mostly burning wilderness areas that are “very difficult” to access. The drought affecting California is one of the main reasons for the fires, he said.
Last week, it was the Carr Fire making media headlines. Seven people died killed and over 1,000 homes were destroyed in the wildfire, the sixth most destructive in Californian history.
Fire services said that the Carr Fire spread to 70,000 hectares (172,000 acres), with 47 per cent of the blaze in Shasta County now contained.
“Smoke over the fire area has tempered fire activity today. Heavy timber fuels are still challenging firefighting efforts. Firefighters will work through the night constructing containment lines and mitigating spot fires across control lines,” Cal Fire said yesterday.
The fire started on 23 July after a person changing a tire on a car created a spark. Among the victims are two firefighters, a grandmother (70) and her two grandchildren (four and five) who got trapped in their house in Redding.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection announced yesterday a $170 million award to prevent catastrophic wildfires and restore forest health.