With dozens dead and entire neighborhoods swallowed by flames, many of the lethal wildfires in California continue to rage uncontained.
Explore the elements of one of nature’s most destructive forces.
With dozens dead and entire neighborhoods swallowed by flames, most of the lethal wildfires in California continue to rage uncontained.
In fact, if the blazes are counted as one “firestorm,” the several fires that have scorched the state this week are entering record territory. “We’ve had big fires in the past,” California Gov. Jerry Brown said. “This is one of the biggest.”
Deaths: At least 31, including 15 in the Tubbs Fire. The 31 deaths this week makes this the second-deadliest week for California wildfires on record. The 15 dead in the Tubbs Fire alone makes that the third-deadliest fire in state history.
The deadliest single fire in California history was the Griffith Park Fire in 1933, which killed 29 people. In second place is the 1991 Oakland Hills Fire, in which 25 people perished.
This is a particularly lethal time of year for California fires: The top four deadliest wildfire weeks in state history have been in October.
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Structures destroyed: At least 3,500. Again, if all the fires are added together, this is likely among the most destructive weeks for wildfires in state history. In October 2003, in the San Diego area firestorm, some 3,700 structures were destroyed. In the 1991 Oakland Hills Fire, 2,900 structures were destroyed.
The 1,000 structures destroyed in the Tubbs Fire alone make that blaze the fifth-most-destructive in California history.
Acres burned: More than 191,000 acres, so far. Once the fires are finished, this could place this group of blazes on the top 10 list of most acres burned in any single week in state history. The area burned is equivalent to more than 13 Manhattans.
In 2008, 1.2 million acres burned in dozens of fires over several weeks in the summer.
The single largest fire in state history was the Cedar Fire in San Diego County in October 2003. In that fire, more than 273,000 acres burned.
Note: Data in this report came from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).
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