The largest wildfire in California history, the Mendocino Complex Fire, which started on July 27 and burned a total of more than 459,000 acres of land, was declared 100% contained by the U.S. Forest Service on Sep. 19.
Located in Lake County in Northern California, the Mendocino Complex consisted of two nearby fires that erupted on the same day. The Ranch Fire and the River Fire together destroyed nearly 300 structures, claimed one person’s life, and injured four others.
The River Fire was reported as fully contained on Aug. 14, with around 49,000 acres charred. The Ranch Fire, on the other hand, burned about 410,000 acres and kept spreading until authorities announced it was 100 percent contained, with 22 miles of line left to repair.
Dry vegetation, high temperatures and strong winds provided the fire plenty of opportunities to spread out of control and rapidly grow at a speed of thousands of acres per day.
When the Mendocino Complex burned over 300,000 acres and broke the state record in early August, the extreme weather also fueled more than a dozen other major fires and led around 14,000 firefighters from across the nation to join the battle fighting California’s wildfires.
The Mendocino Complex fire spread to all three Lake, Colusa and Mendocino counties, while staying active for nearly two months.
Although the fire has been fully contained, authorities are still keeping some areas closed for public safety and to give firefighters enough space and time to do repair work. The closures are expected to be in effect until Dec. 31, and some smoke may still be visible at times.