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California fires set to exceed 2017

More than a million acres already burned

Fires on a hill at night. Photo by mikeledray

California’s ongoing, seemingly never ending firestorm has hit the closest possible thing to a lull in recent weeks, with many of the largest and most destructive blazes curtailed or entirely contained.

But that’s about the end of the good news, as Cal Fire’s most recent statewide stats update provides a stark and startling view of the state’s continued anti-fire crusade: So far in 2018, Cal Fire has recorded over 876,400 acres burned.

That’s more than four times the total at the same time last year, which was just over 228,800 acres. Which itself was an alarming spike from the previous five year average of 156,700-plus for the first eight months of the year.

Altogether, 2018 has seen nearly 5.6 times as much fire activity as usual, and more than 3.8 times as much fire damage just year over year.

It’s worth noting that the worst of 2017’s fires didn’t start until later in the year, so the “year so far” statistics do not yet reflect how 2018 compares to the worst fire-related disasters in the past 12 month period.

However, when US Forest Service statistics are added to Cal Fire’s, 2018’s burn total to date comes out to 1,227,473 acres burned. For all of 2017, the Cal Fire and Forest Service totals were just barely more: 1,248,606 acres.

So even if a repeat of last year’s apocalyptic late year scene mercifully does not occur, 2018 is already on the verge of exceeding the previous year’s tragic total.

Overall, the state recorded 9.133 fires in 2017. So far in 2018 the figure is 5,319. And thus far the 2018 fire breakout hasn’t been as damaging in terms of cost to human infrastructure, with last year’s Tubbs Fire still the most destructive in state history, burning over 5,300 acres.

As of Monday morning, Cal Fire is still trying to tame the ongoing Ranch Fire, which at 402,468 acres is the largest in California history. The blaze is an estimated 67 percent contained.

The deadly Carr Fire in Shasta County, which is now more than a month old, is almost under wraps but still amazingly (and dismayingly) not quite fully contained, with the latest estimate putting it at 97 percent.

Photo by Neil Lockhar