SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – California’s record-breaking 2020 wildfire season hit another grim milestone on Monday, with officials saying that fires have burned more than 3 million acres so far this year.
Cal Fire announced in its Statewide Fire Summary that 3.2 million acres (5,000 square miles) have burned, which is larger than the state of Connecticut (4,849 square miles). Three weeks ago, Cal Fire officials announced this year’s fires had burned through an area that was larger than another northeastern state, Rhode Island (1,045 square miles).
Wildfires burning in the past month have repeatedly broken records. The August Complex fire burning in the Mendocino National Forest has burned 846,812 acres since it started on August 17th, making it the largest wildfire in state history.
The SCU Lightning Complex and LNU Lightning Complex fires, which were both sparked by a lightning storm last month, grew to the 3rd and 4th largest ever California wildfires, respectively. Two other wildfires currently burning in the state, the North Complex Fire in Butte and Plumas counties and the Creek Fire northeast of Fresno, are already on the list of the 20 most destructive wildfires in state history.
Since wildfire activity increased in mid-August, the fires have killed at least 24 people and destroyed more than 4,200 structures, Cal Fire said.
The fires have also broken records when it comes to poor air quality, which turned skies above the Bay Area orange last week and prompting a continuous string of at least 30 Spare the Air alerts.
As of Monday, there are at least 28 major wildfires burning in California, and nearly 16,500 firefighters are on the front lines.