Officials in California are warning that it will likely be closer to September 1st before they are able to contain the Mendocino Complex Fire, reports NPR on Wednesday morning.
California continues to battle 17 major wildfires fueled by record-breaking heat and dead vegetation left over from a five-year drought – the worst in the state’s history – that ended last year.
The Mendocino Complex Fire, which encompasses Colusa, Lake and Mendocino counties, has now engulfed more than 292,000 acres, or 457 square miles – an area the size of Los Angeles – according to Cal Fire. The River Fire is 78 percent contained, but the larger Ranch Fire is just 20 percent contained.
The smaller Carr Fire to the north near Redding, has been more destructive since it burned into urban areas. That fire has spread to 172,000 acres, or nearly 270 square miles, and is 47 percent contained. The Carr Fire has killed six people, including two firefighters, and destroyed more than 1,000 homes.
Officials are increasingly worried that 2018 could be shaping up to be California’s worst-ever fire season because historically the worst months for wildfires are yet to come. The state is experiencing more, larger and more destructive wildfires that come earlier in the season, a situation increasingly blamed on climate change.
“For whatever reason, fires are burning much more intensely, much more quickly than they were before,” said Mark A. Hartwig, president of the California Fire Chiefs Association.