Watch this incredible, dangerous smoke plume created by massive California wildfires

Ventura County Fire Department shot this time-lapse video of a plume of smoke collapsing and creating dangerous conditions on Tuesday, December 12, 2017, during the Thomas Fire. As the massive smoke plume generated by the fire continues to rise, i
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Ventura County Fire Department shot this time-lapse video of a plume of smoke collapsing and creating dangerous conditions on Tuesday, December 12, 2017, during the Thomas Fire. As the massive smoke plume generated by the fire continues to rise, i
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Fires

California wildfires in 2017: A staggering toll of lost life and homes

By Phillip Reese

preese@sacbee.com

December 31, 2017 03:38 PM

This year will go down as one of the worst in California wildfire history, the latest state fire statistics show.

As of Dec. 11:

Large wildfires had destroyed or damaged more than 10,000 structures in California this year, a higher tally than the last nine years combined.

Large wildfires had killed 43 people – 41 civilians and two firefighters. That’s higher than the last 10 years combined, state figures show.

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Several fires this year were among the worst ever recorded in the state.

The Tubbs Fire that hit Napa and Sonoma counties was the most destructive fire on record, destroying or damaging more than 5,600 homes. It was the third-deadliest on record, killing 22 people.

The Redwood Valley Fire in Mendocino County killed nine people in October, the 10th-deadliest fire on record.

The Atlas Fire in Napa and Solano counties killed six people in October, the 13th-deadliest fire on record.

The Cascade Fire in Yuba County killed four people in October, the 19th-deadliest fire on record.

And the Thomas Fire tearing through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties has burned more than 281,000 acres and is now the largest fire on record in California. It was 92 percent contained as of Sunday.

This horrible wildfire season was largely the result of new vegetation that grew after record rainfall last winter and then dried during the summer. In addition, the Diablo winds that blow in Northern California were awful this year, and winter rainfall has been scarce.

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Phillip Reese is The Bee's data specialist and teaches at Sacramento State. Reach him at 916-321-1137 or 916-278-5420. Story updated 1/1 to correct location of Redwood Valley Fire.