The Mendocino Complex wildfire exploded overnight to become the second-largest blaze in California history, at some 425 square miles in size. That's larger than 18 Manhattan Islands and is roughly one-third the size of the state of Rhode Island.
So far, the fire has destroyed some 140 structures and threatens thousands more, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire). It's only 30 percent contained.
“It is extremely fast, extremely aggressive, extremely dangerous,” Scott McLean, a deputy chief with Cal Fire, told the Los Angeles Times. “Look how big it got, just in a matter of days. … Look how fast this Mendocino Complex went up in ranking. That doesn’t happen. That just doesn’t happen.”
The fire is on pace to become the largest in state history, as its only behind 2017's Thomas Fire by a few thousand acres.
The Mendocino Complex fire is actually two separate fires – the River and Ranch Fires – that have grown together to create one gigantic fire.
According to Cal Fire, the Ranch Fire continues to grow in the north and southeastern directions, "threatening communities in the fire's path." Mandatory evacuations are still in place for areas in Lake, Colusa, and Mendocino County.
That fire joins the list of massive wildfires that continue to scorch California and the western U.S. There are at least 18 fires burning in California and 100 fires burning in the U.S., according to the National Interagency Fire Center, which said that 28,000 firefighters are now battling the fires across the nation.
California's Carr Fire, which has killed seven people and destroyed over 1,000 homes, is now 43 percent contained, Cal Fire said. At 255 square miles burned, it's the 15th-largest and sixth-most-destructive fire in state history.
The blaze has done an estimated $98.3 million in damage to roads, bridges, utilities and other public facilities in Shasta County.
Saturday, the Trump administration declared Shasta County the scene of a major disaster. The presidential declaration opens the door to a variety of assistance programs for the community.
Another wildfire, known as the Ferguson Fire, has burned more than 140 square miles near Yosemite National Park as of Sunday. Two people have died in that fire, which is 38 percent contained, according to the Weather Channel.
A portion of the national park, which has been closed since last week, is expected to remain closed indefinitely.
The weather will offer no relief this week, as high heat and low relative humidity will continue to plague firefighters battling the fires each afternoon and evening, AccuWeather said. High temperatures will remain above 100 degrees each day for much of California, except along the coast.
UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain said about half of the increase in recent California wildfires can be blamed on the extreme warmth fueled by human-caused climate change. He said other factors include homes built in high-risk fire areas. "We've put a lot of people and a lot of stuff in harm's way," Swain said.