Twin California wildfires, known as the Mendocino Complex Fire, have become the largest wildfire in California’s history on August 6, 2018 as it razed the southern tip of the Mendocino National Forest.
The fire, composed of two separate blazes a few miles apart that are being treated as one incident, spread rapidly to burn 283,800 acres of land—an area roughly the size of Los Angeles.
The fire has already surpassed the Thomas Fire, which burned 281,893 acres in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties in 2017.
The National Weather Service (NWS) is not expecting improvements in the status of the fire. “It’s pretty doggone hot and dry and it’s going to stay that way,” NWS meteorologist Brian Hurley said.
Hurley further added that temperatures could reach 110 degrees (F) in Northern California over the next couple of days, coupled with gusty winds that are expected to fan the flames.
The fire, which has already destroyed at least 75 homes and forced thousands to flee, is the largest of eight major wildfires currently razing the state. More than 14,000 firefighters in total have been battling the fires throughout California.
The numbers are unprecedented, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) spokesman and deputy chief Scott McLean
“I can remember a couple of years ago when we saw 10 to 12,000 firefighters in the states of California, Oregon and Washington and never the 14,000 we see now,” he said.
140 fire managers and specialists from Australia and New Zealand have also been deployed to fires in the Pacific Northwest and California after undergoing special training and acquiring safety gear from the National Interagency Fire Center.
Some 3,900 firefighters have responded to the Mendocino Complex Fire, including fire crews from Arizona, Washington and as far as Alaska.
Around 200 soldiers from the 14th Brigade Engineer Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington, have also been asked to help put out the fire.
While progress has been made over the weekend against one of the two wildfires with help from water-dropping aircraft, the other one is growing after spreading into the Mendocino National Forest.
The fires in Northern California have grown so huge, they have already created a haze of smoke in the Central Valley. Sacramento County health officials have warned residents to avoid outdoor activities for the week.
In a statement to Time magazine, deputy fire chief McLean has said: “our changing climate is leading to more severe and destructive fires that we are seeing this year and last.”