For the first time in California’s history, a single wildfire has burned at least 1 million areas of land in the Golden State.
The August Complex wildfire has blazed through seven counties since it was first lit on August 17, USA Today reports, and is now the largest fire the state has experienced since 1932, In fact, the Northern California blaze is “larger than the combined total of all of the state’s wildfires from 1932 to 1999,” according to Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“If that’s not proof point, testament, to climate change, then I don’t know what is,” Newsom said.
#AugustComplex, burning across five counties in northern Coast Ranges, has become California's first modern "#megafire." This complex of individual fires, which have burned together into contiguous burn area, now spans 1 million acres–larger than state of Rhode Island. #CAfire pic.twitter.com/M1LzyqMR3I
— Daniel Swain (@Weather_West) October 5, 2020
More than 4 million acres of California have been razed by wildfires in 2020. Now only a little more than 50% contained, the August Complex wildfire continues to spread. Other wildfires, including the Zogg fire that began on Sept. 27 near Redding, may soon merge into the much larger blaze.
“It’s likely the Zogg Fire may make its way into the August Complex, (which) remains the largest wildfire in terms of total acreage burned in California’s history,” Newsom said.
So far at least four people have lost their lives to the Zogg fire. The August Complex wildfire death toll meanwhile rose above 30 in September, leaving at least 8,200 structures razed, and pushed tens of thousands from their homes.
“It’s been hard for the communities who have had to go through this,” said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Kate White. “We want to make sure we’re doing what we can and providing the support we can.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, more than 3,900 personnel including aerial and ground crews from Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service are working to fight the August Complex fire. They are joined by 138 National Guard personnel and other crews from all over the country.
“Everybody’s ready for a break, but everybody’s doing what they have to do,” said Christine McMorrow, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “I think everybody across the state is ready for a break in the pattern that we’ve had for almost two months now.”
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.