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Massive Mendocino Complex Fire Grows To 300,000 Acres

MENDOCINO COUNTY (CBS SF) – The Mendocino Complex Fire, already the largest wildfire in California history, reached another destructive milestone overnight.

Cal Fire announced Wednesday morning that the blaze, consisting of the River and Ranch fires, has scorched 300,086 acres (468.88 square miles) since it started on July 27th. Containment has grown to 47 percent.

In just 11 days, the fire has scorched an area about the size of Los Angeles (469 square miles) or about 10 times the size of San Francisco (47 square miles).

Mendocino-Complex Fire In Northern California Grows To Largest Fire In State's History
A firefighter monitors a back fire while battling the Medocino Complex fire on August 7, 2018 near Lodoga, California. The Mendocino Complex Fire, which is made up of the River Fire and Ranch Fire, has surpassed the Thomas Fire to become the largest wilfire in California state history with over 280,000 acres charred and at least 75 homes destroyed. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

"The northern portion of the Ranch Fire near Ukiah remained active overnight, moving further into the Mendocino National Forest transitioning into dense stands of mixed conifer," officials said.

Meanwhile, officials said the River Fire near Hopland had no overnight movement.

For Cal Fire battalion chief Ross Fowler and his team, fighting the flames has been like waging a war.

"We're on the battleground and we're trying to make sure our troops stay safe but we're also trying to save people's lives and property," Fowler told CBS News.

The number of structures destroyed has also grown, to 116 homes and 105 other buildings. More than 10,000 structures remain threatened.

Officials said two firefighters have been injured. No injuries or deaths among civilians has been reported.

Thousands of people in Mendocino, Lake and Colusa counties remain under evacuation orders Wednesday, but officials have allowed residents of several Lake County communities to return to their homes late Wednesday morning.

A full list of evacuations and road closures can be found here (.pdf).

Classes in the Lakeport Unified School District, which was supposed to begin Wednesday, has been postponed for at least two weeks due to smoke damage in classrooms.

The effects of smoke from the wildfires are being felt in the Bay Area, as air quality officials have declared a Spare The Air alert for Wednesday.

Cal Fire still estimates full containment on September 1st.

Officials plan to hold a virtual community meeting over Facebook Live to discuss the situation regarding the fire. The meeting will begin at 6PM and will be streamed on the Cal Fire Mendocino Unit and Lake County government Facebook pages.

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