Yosemite fire: What are California’s largest wildfires?

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The Rim fire has burned its way into the history books, becoming the fourth-largest wildfire in California history, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Crews are continuing to make progress on the two-week-old wildfire that has scorched 222,777 acres in and around Yosemite National Park.

More than 5,000 firefighters are battling the blaze, which has so far cost $60 million in state and federal funds, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Trevor Augustino.


Six other fires are burning in California, down from about a dozen last week, with more than 8,000 firefighting personnel deployed across the state, said Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant. Recent weeks have seen an increase in fire activity, he said, because of dry conditions, gusty winds and dry lightning that sparked several hundred fires.

California’s 10 largest wildfires:

  1. The Cedar fire in San Diego County burned 427 square miles in October 2003, destroying more than 2,800 structures and killing 14. The blaze began as a signal fire set by a West Covina man who was separated from his companion on a deer hunting trip, according to Times archives.
  2. The Rush fire in Lassen County burned 424 square miles in California and 68 in Nevada in August 2012. The fire was sparked by lightening.
  3. The Zaca fire in Santa Barbara County burned 375 square miles in July 2007. The Zaca fire was ignited by sparks from grinding equipment being used to repair a water pipe near Los Olivos, according to Times archives.
  4. The two-week old Rim fire in Tuolumne County has so far burned 348 square miles. It is 40% contained and officials expect full containment by Sept. 20. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
  5. The Matilija fire in Ventura County burned 343 square miles in September 1932. The cause of the fire is undetermined.
  6. The Witch fire in San Diego burned 309 square miles in October 2007. destroying 1,650 structures and kiling two. The blaze was sparked by power lines.
  7. The Klamath Theater Complex fire in Siskiyou County burned 300 square miles and killed two in June 2008. The fire was started by lightning.
  8. The Marble Cone fire in Monterey County burned 278 square miles in July 1977. The fire was sparked by lightening.
  9. The Laguna fire in San Diego burned 274 square miles in September 1970, destorying 382 structures and killing five. The fire was sparked by powerlines.
  10. The Monterey County Basin Complex fire burned 254 square miles in June 2008. The blaze was started by lightning and destroyed 58 structures.


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Twitter: @Sam_Schaefer