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Thursday updates: August Complex fire in Mendocino County is now California’s largest fire ever

Top 20 Wildfires

Six of the top 20 largest wildfires in California history have occurred in 2020

Largest: #1 August Complex, #3 SCU Lightning Complex, #4 LNU Lightning Complex, #9 Elkhorn Fire, #10 North Complex, and #17 Creek Fire

Most destructive: #9 LNU Lightning Complex and #10 CZU August Lightning Complex

Deadliest: #19 LNU Lightning Complex (five fatalities)

Source: Cal Fire

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Share your photos of smoke from the August Complex fire with us at onlineideas@pressdemocrat.com.

10 AM: Mendocino County’s August Complex fire is now the state’s largest

The August Complex fire has grown to 471,185 acres and is the largest wildfire in California’s history, according to Cal Fire records.

The fire, which began in the Mendocino National Forest east of Covelo on Aug. 17, was listed at 24% contained Thursday morning.

According to Cal Fire statistics, the August Complex has eclipsed the Mendocino Complex from July 2018. It burned 459,123 acres in Mendocino, Lake, Colusa and Glenn Counties.

The SCU Lightning Complex fire that started in Santa Clara County last month was listed at 396,624 acres and 97% contained.

The LNU Lightning Complex fire in Sonoma, Napa, Lake, Solano and Yolo counties totals 363,220 acres and was 94% contained as of Thursday. It is primarily made up of the Hennessey fire that began in Napa County and the Walbridge and Meyers fires in Sonoma County.

Winds pushed the August Complex fire, which started as 37 separate fires that have mostly merged, and flames gained significant ground overnight, according to U.S. Forest Service statements.

Northeast winds Wednesday worsened increased fire activity on the west side of the fire, with heavy smoke production across the area.

Flames on Tuesday jumped the Black Butte River, continuing beyond the M1 Road and crews discovered on Wednesday the fire had become established in the Yuki Wilderness, as well as private lands to the north and west of the wilderness, according to the forest service.

An unknown number of structures have burned during the fire’s growth over the last two days.

The U.S. Forest Service said 1,117 fire personnel from multiple agencies were fighting the fire, including those from Cal Fire and those from the five counties involved.

Flames also jumped the Eel River on Wednesday.

Firefighters will continue to work on containment lines on the west side of the fire Thursday and in the Monkey Rock area.

Warm and dry conditions with a lot of smoke are expected through the weekend, along with winds with gusts up to 18 mph.

Evacuation orders are in effect for multiple counties. For evacuation information and orders, residents or property owners were asked to contact their respective sheriffs’ offices.

There will be a virtual community meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Meeting information and fire updates can be found on the Mendocino National Forest Facebook page: www.facebook.com/MendocinoNF.

Current information on the August Complex fire can be found on at: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6983.

To see a current map of the fire, go here.

For specific cabin-access related questions, contact the Forest Service at (530) 934-3316.

8 AM: Oak fire holding steady

Firefighters appear to have stopped progress of the Oak fire at 863 acres while keeping containment at 25 percent as of Thursday morning.

Cal Fire officials said crews were working in steep and rugged terrain but continue to make steady progress on strengthening fire lines.

Two structures are known to have been destroyed, but damage inspection teams were still working to complete their survey of the area.

Highway 101 north of Willits was reopened late Wednesday night.

Evacuation orders remain for these areas: Third Gate, Brooktrails, Spring Creek, Schow Road at Ryan Creek Road and Sleepy Hollow. Orders mean residents must leave.

Evacuation warnings remained at: Irmulco Road, Sherwood Rancheria, Shimmins Ridge Road, Hearst Willits Road, String Creek and Willits Valley north of Highway 20. Warnings mean residents should be prepared to leave based on fire conditions.

Visit: https://tinyurl.com/MendoEvac for a detailed map of evacuations and other information.

Evacuation center were set up at Willits High School, 299 N. Main Street, and Baechtel Grove Middle School, 1150 Magnolia St. Animals can be evacuated to the high school.

Multiple roads were closed in the Brooktrails and Willits areas.

You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 707-521-5470 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @loriacarter.

Top 20 Wildfires

Six of the top 20 largest wildfires in California history have occurred in 2020

Largest: #1 August Complex, #3 SCU Lightning Complex, #4 LNU Lightning Complex, #9 Elkhorn Fire, #10 North Complex, and #17 Creek Fire

Most destructive: #9 LNU Lightning Complex and #10 CZU August Lightning Complex

Deadliest: #19 LNU Lightning Complex (five fatalities)

Source: Cal Fire

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Share your photos of smoke from the August Complex fire with us at onlineideas@pressdemocrat.com.

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