The onslaught of flames has been relentless in California. The three largest fires, the Carr, Ferguson and Mendocino Complex, have burned 600,000 acres. By the time they are all extinguished, this trio may end up equaling the annual average for fire acres per year in California, about 750,000 acres.
These are certainly big numbers. The Mendocino Complex in Northern California has become the largest fire on record in the state, with two interrelated fire-fields consuming more than 300,000 acres.
Just how much territory does this represent? These numbers can be difficult to visualize. That’s where maps can help.
We’re The Washington Post, so let’s start in the D.C. area.
The largest fire in California, the Mendocino Complex, is about seven times larger than the city. Here’s what the footprint of the complex would look like if it happened in the D.C. metro region:
Washington turns out to be roughly the size of the smallest of the three major fires burning in California, the Ferguson, which is near Yosemite National Park.
The Mendocino Complex would encompass everything between Reston and Bowie, and run from the northern side of the Beltway to the southern end. Plus there’s that additional big patch to the southwest.
Here’s a visual of the Mendocino Complex fire superimposed on the top six cities in the country by population (link to the full-size version: here):
Now that we might have a better sense of the size of the Mendocino Complex Fire, let’s visualize the combination of all three blazes, adding the Carr and Ferguson fires.
Since California is very large from north to south, here’s what those three mega-fires would look like if placed over the Great Lakes and the Ohio Valley region:
If the three blazes were close together, and burning in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro, it would look something like this:
Ultimately, these three fires may close in on the annual average for acreage burned in California, adding 150,000 acres to the gigantic areas we’ve just illustrated.
Note: Fire areas are as shown and exported from CalFire’s tracker. The data shown in maps here was taken Friday, based on data from late Thursday.