The Mendocino Complex Fire in Northern California is now the largest in state history, scorching 283,800 acres, Cal Fire reported Monday.
The 11-day-old blaze in mainly mountainous terrain near Clear Lake topped the Thomas Fire, which was the state’s largest for about eight months after burning through 281,893 acres in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties in December 2017 and January 2018.
Firefighters, though, increasingly have been encircling the Mendocino Complex Fire in recent days, and are now estimating they will have it fully contained in little more than one week. The fire has burned in three counties: Mendocino, Lake and Colusa.
After mass evacuations in the Clear Lake area last week, officials let more residents return to their homes on Sunday and Monday, and eased warning notices Monday at noon for residents in several areas as well.
So far, the Mendocino Complex, which is made up of two nearby fires, the River and Ranch blazes, has consumed 75 homes and destroyed 68 other buildings, far fewer than the Thomas Fire in Southern California, which destroyed more than 1,000 homes. The denuded hillsides caused by the conflagration later led to coastal mudslides that killed 21 people.
Fire officials report the River Fire is now 58 percent contained, and firefighters are being transferred from there a few miles north to the larger Ranch Fire, which remained only 21 percent contained as of Monday evening, and continues to grow to the east and southeast.