Wildfires tearing through trees and brush, rampaging up hillsides and incinerating neighborhoods: The place-names change but the devastation is showing signs of becoming the new normal in California.
On Monday, twin fires being treated as one incident north of San Francisco became the largest wildfire in state history, destroying 443 square miles (1,148 square kilometers) — nearly the size of the city of Los Angeles.
The Mendocino Complex was still growing as it broke the record set last December. The Thomas Fire killed two people, burned 440 square miles, and destroyed more than 1,000 buildings in Southern California before being fully contained Jan. 12.
The Mendocino Complex, which is 30 percent contained, has been less destructive to property than some of the other wildfires in the state because it is mostly raging in remote areas. But officials say it threatens 11,300 buildings and some new evacuations were ordered over the weekend as the flames spread.
Hotter weather attributed to climate change is drying out vegetation, creating more intense fires that spread quickly from rural areas to city subdivisions, climate and fire experts say. But they also blame cities and towns that are expanding housing into previously undeveloped areas.