Sacramento Fire Becomes Largest in California History

Sacramento Fire Becomes Largest in California History

Linda Qiu, Staff Writer

The August Complex Fire, located north of Sacramento, has now burned over 746,000 acres. On Sept. 10, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) declared it the largest wildfire in California history.

2020 has been a year of record wildfires. Even so, the August Complex Fire has been far more severe than the rest. It is over 60% larger than the Mendocino Fire Complex, the last largest fire in California. Its largest active fire is the Doe Fire, which is burning through five counties alone.

The August Complex Fire began on Aug. 16 to Aug. 17 as 37 different fires sparked by lightning strikes. Temperatures over 100 degrees coupled with dry winds quickly boosted their severity. By Aug. 30, the four largest fires, Doe, Tatham, Glad, and Hull, had burned together, and the August Complex Fire had become one large fire with the exception of the northern Hopkins fire. 

Between Sept. 8 and Sept. 9, the August Complex Fire expanded by six times its previous size due to strong winds. It is now slowing in its advancement after winds slowed on Sept 10, allowing firefighting efforts to make more progress. However, thunderstorms are forecast to return Sept. 15, and may once again ignite more fires.

The U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire are currently managing the firefighting effort together. With their best efforts, the overall complex has since reached 25% containment. Over 1,400 firefighters have been assigned to battle this complex fire, one of which has died from his vehicle being overturned on Aug. 31. The National Interagency Coordination Center has stated that 233 service members from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington are working as hand crews and mop-up teams.

According to Cal Fire, “five of the top 20 largest wildfires in California history have occurred in 2020.” 

“We’re in the midst of a climate emergency,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom, suggesting that the current wildfire situation in California is a product of a trend in rising global temperatures.

President Donald Trump has suggested that California taxpayers will face the burden of the fires. 

In the past months, 102 active large fires have burned across 12 states in Alaska and the West, 4.4 million acres of land. In California alone, 29 major wildfires have caused the deaths of at least 12 people.

Informational updates on the California wildfire situation may be found at the Cal Fire Wildfire Report website,


Photo courtesy of NEWSBREAK.COM