California's August Complex fire is now the largest wildfire in state history

A burned store in Butte County.
(Image credit: JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

California hit a disastrous milestone Thursday as wildfires continue to torch the west coast.

The August Complex fire burning in northern California became the largest fire in state history Thursday as it encompassed 471,185 acres in the Mendocino National Forest. It beat the record 459,000 acres burned during the Mendocino Complex fire in the same forest two years ago, and continues to rage largely uncontained as the state's third and fourth largest fires burn too.

As of Thursday, the August Complex — a combination of 37 fires that all merged together — is 24 percent contained, says the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. Meanwhile the SCU Lightning Complex outside San Jose has burned 396,624 acres and is 97 percent contained, making it the third largest fire in state history. The LNU Lightning Complex north of San Francisco has burned 363,220 acres and is 94 percent contained, putting it at the No. 4 spot in state history.

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Fires raging across California have killed at least 12 people and destroyed 3,900 structures, officials told the Los Angeles Times. Still, scientists warn the most dangerous effects of the wildfires are likely the smog they're casting throughout some of America's most populous metropolitan areas.

Oregon is meanwhile undergoing its most intense fires in history as well. Gov. Kate Brown (D) said Thursday that 900,000 acres have burned throughout the state in the past week — nearly twice as much than what typically burns in a year. The five largest fires, each larger than 100,000 acres, are barely contained at all.

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Kathryn Krawczyk

Kathryn is a graduate of Syracuse University, with degrees in magazine journalism and information technology, along with hours to earn another degree after working at SU's independent paper The Daily Orange. She's currently recovering from a horse addiction while living in New York City, and likes to share her extremely dry sense of humor on Twitter.