Five of the six largest wildfires in California state history have been sparked in the past two months — and they’re all still raging.
The state’s most aggressive fire, August Complex, has so far scorched nearly 860,000 acres of NorCal’s Tehama County — nearly doubling the now second-largest Mendocino Complex in 2018.
Rounding out the all-time top six are four other blazes still currently burning.
The SCU Lightning Complex has now consumed 396,624 acres near Santa Clara and Alameda counties, while the LNU Lightning Complex has decimated 363,220 acres around Sonoma and Napa counties.
Meanwhile, the North Complex has claimed 301,404 acres of Butte, Plumas and Yuma counties, while the Creek Fire — the youngest of the blazes, having started earlier this month — has eaten away 289,695 acres of Fresno and Madera counties.
And the destruction is only expected to grow.
While the SCU and LNU Lightning complexes were each considered 98% contained as of Sunday and Tuesday, firefighters are still battling to get the other fires under control.
The North Complex was deemed 75% contained as of early Wednesday while the Creek Fire was considered 32% contained.
The enormous August Complex blaze was still only 39% contained as of Wednesday morning.
The top six doesn’t even include the Bobcat Fire, which earlier this week passed 100,000 acres to become one of the largest wildfires in the history of Los Angeles County.
The Bobcat FireCumulatively, at least 26 people have been killed and thousands of structures leveled in what’s been a historic California wildfire season.
These are hidden deaths
The dense wildfire smoke that blanketed the state for weeks in August and early September — contributing to dangerous air quality from the San Francisco Bay area to Sacramento to Fresno and beyond — may have contributed to the deaths of hundreds of Californians and sent thousands more to the emergency room, Stanford University researchers say.
Yes! The total cost in terms of human lives and health is likely far larger due to the immense amount of smoke that has been inhaled over the last 3 weeks by the very large number of people living on the West Coast.
About 6 million Californians are age 65 or older. Using Medicare data, the researchers say dense concentrations of smoke between the beginning of August and early September contributed to some 1,200 deaths that would not otherwise have happened and 4,800 additional visits to hospitals’ emergency rooms.
“These are hidden deaths. These are people who were probably already sick but for whom air pollution made them even sicker,” explains the San Jose Mercury News.