Mendocino Complex Fire is Largest Wildfire in California
The two massive blazes that engulfed Northern California late last month were the largest wildfire in the state history, authorities said.
The twin wildfires known as the Mendocino Complex Fire have sprawled uncontrollably across parched land, leaving a trail of massive destruction.
The size of the fire has doubled over the past days and burned through 283,800 acres of dry land. In fact, the inferno ravaged three counties, surrounded a river and parts of neighboring reservoirs, destroyed nearly 170 homes and buildings, and forced thousands to flee.
Human casualties were also recorded. At least seven people have died in the Carr Fire, including two firefighters and a woman and her two great-grandchildren. The latest victim is a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. employee who was killed on Saturday.
The Mendocino Complex Fire has surpassed the previous record of the infamous Thomas Fire that burned nearly 282,000 acres of land in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties late last year.
There were several culprits in the causes of the Mendocino Complex Fire. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, blamed it on winds blowing across the dry vegetation and triple digit temperatures.
“There’s some challenges that firefighters are facing near the fire and in the area of the fire. We have strong, erratic winds, and what that’s doing is blowing embers, and it’s spreading the fire,” Capt. Thanh Nguyen, an acting Cal Fire spokesman, said Monday. “You got steep terrain that makes it difficult for firefighters.”
President Donald Trump has a different side of the story. Trump posted in his Twitter account blaming it on “bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing a massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized.”
“It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean,” the president tweeted. “Must also tree clear to stop fire spreading!”
However, Cal Fire spokesman Mike Mohler countered back by saying that California has plenty of water to contain wildfires.
“Let’s be clear: It’s our changing climate that is leading to more severe and destructive fires,” he said.
This comment from the Cal Fire Department was backed by one a female ecologist the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
“Extreme droughts and high winds are increasing as climate is warming,” said Monica Turner, an ecologist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison who has spent three decades researching fires at Yellowstone National Park. “That’s the ultimate driver behind what’s happening in California.”
Record of Wildfires
Wildfires are not new in California. The state experienced some of its most destructive fires ever over the past year. In October 2017, deadly wildfires ravaged the northern part of California, killing at least twenty-six people and causing mass evacuations. At least seventeen wildfires swept through the northern part of the state. The state’s famous wine country – Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties were severely burned. The disaster left a trail of destruction, and at least 1,500 properties were damaged.