A Single Fire in California Has Burned 1 Million Acres

firefighters battling fire

As wildfires continue to burn throughout the Golden State, a devastating new milestone was reached on Monday when a single fire surpassed one million acres.

The land burned by the August Complex fire is more than all the recorded fires in California history between 1932 and 1999, California Governor Gavin Newsom said in an announcement on Monday.

“If that’s not proof point, testament, to climate change, then I don’t know what is,” he said. “Forest management has long been an issue… but just consider what has occurred since 1999 here in the state of California and put it in perspective as it relates to the challenges we face here in California.”

The August Complex fire area is in the northwestern part of the state, between Eureka, Chico, and Mendocino, and it includes the northern part of the Mendocino National Forest.

As of Tuesday morning, the fire has scorched 1,006,140 acres and is 58% contained, according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, which noted that “warm and very dry conditions continue” and “another day of heavy smoke is expected in the lower elevations.”

In a report issued Tuesday and tweeted by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), the incident started on Aug. 17 and was caused by lightning.

The governor called the progress of the August Complex fire “stubborn,” comparing the current containment to the Sept. 28 statistic of 45% contained and 878,000 acres burned.

Already the largest wildfire in California history, Newsom also said last week that there are concerns it could merge with the Zogg Fire, which started on Sept. 27 and is located southwest of Redding in Shasta County. That area is 82% contained, with 56,305 acres damaged to date, according to Cal Fire.

Statewide, Newsom said that four million acres have burned this year so far, with 23 major fires “still raging” and 8,687 structures destroyed. Thirty-one people have died from the fires.

In its daily wildfire summary, Cal Fire said on Monday that 16,400 firefighters continue to work on the major fires and responded to 26 new wildfires on Sunday, containing all but one, the Lambert Fire in Amador County.

“California historically experiences some of the most devastating wildfires in the months of September and October,” the summary said, directing residents to ReadyForWildfire.org for tips on how to prevent the sparking of new flames. “Do not let your guard down!”

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