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California Wildfire Now Largest in State History, Creating Toxic Smoke and Other Hazards

August 9, 2018 Leave a comment DRI Admin

The Mendocino Fire Complex burning in California’s Lake and Mendocino Counties has officially become the largest wildfire on record for the state, and continues to expand with the help of a heat wave and extremely dry conditions. It’s also creating additional hazards for those outside the immediate danger zone.

The fire is at 290,692 acres and growing, topping last year’s Thomas Fire record of 281,000 acres. Experts say that the wildfires are burning hotter, longer, and larger due to decades of fire suppression policies along with expanded development in fire prone areas as well as climate change. Notably, both the Mendocino and Thomas fires broke records outside of the typical peak season of October/November.

Outside of the immediate region, millions are still in harm’s way due to the looming smoke plumes, which have been so large they’ve even become visible from the International Space Station. The result is that parts of the state – as well as neighboring states – are reporting some of the most hazardous air quality readings in the world. In some areas, it’s so hazardous (particulates in the air can be absorbed into the bloodstream and lungs, aggravating a variety of health problems) that in some areas authorities are advising people to stay indoors as much as possible.

Meanwhile, another noteworthy fire in the Sacramento Valley gained attention: the “firenado.” A wildfire on July 27 turned into a towering inferno of sorts, a rotating whirl of fire and smoke that weather scientists say is incredibly rare – and highly dangerous.