California

LIST: California's 15 Largest Wildfires

Four of the largest wildfires on record in California have burned in 2020.

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Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images, File

Four of the five-largest wildfires on record in California started in August and September, weeks ahead of what is typically the most dangerous time of year for wildfires.

Below, you'll find a list of the 15-largest fires on record in California.

Each fire includes the cause of the fire, date, location, acres burned, number of buildings damaged and fatalities. The data was compiled by Cal Fire and does not include fires before 1932, when less reliable records were available. 

The list includes all fires in California, regardless of whether they were under local, state or federal agencies' responsibility.

1. August Complex

Acres: 1,002,097
Cause: Under Investigation
Date: August 2020
Location: Tehama County
Structures: 160 
Fatalities: 1

2. Mendocino Complex

Acres: 459,123
Cause: Under Investigation
Date: July 2018
Location: Colusa, Lake, Mendocino and Glenn counties
Structures: 280
Fatalities: 1

3. SCU Lightning Complex

Acres: 396,624
Cause: Under Investigation, possibly lightning
Date: August 2020
Location: Stanislaus, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa and San Joaquin counties
Structures: 222
Fatalities: 0

4. LNU Lightning Complex

Cause: Under investigation, possibly lightning
Date: August 2020 
Location: Sonoma, Lake, Napa, Yolo and Solano counties
Acres: 363,220
Structures: 1,491
Fatalities: 5

5. Creek Fire

Cause: Under investigation
Date: September 2020 
Location: Fresno and Madera counties
Acres: 322,089
Structures: 856
Fatalities: 0

6. North Complex

Cause: Under investigation, possibly lightning
Date: August 2020 
Location: Butte, Plumas and Yuba counties
Acres: 318,724
Structures: 2,352
Fatalities: 15

7. Thomas

Cause: Under investigation
Date: December 2017 
Location: Ventura, Santa Barbara counties 
Acres: 281,893
Structures: 1,063
Fatalities: 2

8. Cedar

Cause: Human Related 
Date: October 2003 
Location: San Diego County 
Acres: 273,246 
Structures: 2,820 
Fatalities: 15

9. Rush

Cause: Lightning
Date: August 2012
Location: Lassen County
Acres: 271,911 California/43,666 Nevada
Structures: None
Fatalities: None

10. Rim

Cause: Human Related
Date: August 2013
Location: Tuolumne County
Acres: 257,314
Structures: 112
Fatalities: None

11. Zaca

Cause: Human Related 
Date: July 2007 
Location: Santa Barbara County 
Acres: 240,207 
Structures: 1 
Fatalities: 0

12. Carr Fire

Cause: Human Related

Date: July 2018 
Location: Shasta, Trinity Counties 
Acres: 229,651 
Structures: 1,604
Fatalities: 7

13. Matilija

Cause: Undetermined
Date: September 1932
Location: Ventura County
Acres: 220,000
Structures: 0
Fatalities: 0

14. Witch

Cause: Powerlines
Date: October 2007
Location: San Diego County
Acres: 197,990
Structures: 1,650
Fatalities: 2

15. Klamath Theater Complex

Cause: Lightning
Date: June 2008
Location:Siskiyou County
Acres: 192,038
Structures: 0
Fatalities: 2

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