3 more die in California wildfire as state passes 3 million acres burned

The Northern Complex Fire near Chico has claimed three more lives, bringing the total death count in recent California wildfires to 22.

Cal Fire is already calling this a year for the record books. 

Much of the Golden State has been charred black. The North complex has burned over 258,000 acres and is 25 percent contained, while the August Complex Fire in Mendocino and Humboldt counties has blackened over 877,000 acres and has zero containment. 

So far, over 3.3 million acres have been scorched across the state, setting a record, and dwarfing last year's stats.

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“We are over 27 times the amount of acreage burned. In fact, just to put acres burned in perspective. Over the size of the state of Connecticut has burned in these fires this year,” said Daniel Berlant, Cal Fire Deputy Director.

Weather has been the key ingredient.

From the lighting complex fires in the Bay Area, to wind whipped fires now burning to the North.

“With the lightning, coupled with the triple digit temperatures, and then some early wind events that combination has allowed these record setting fires to not only spark, but then in other cases be fueled by those winds,” said Berlant.


But wildfires aren’t just burning here, they are also raging north, consuming land and property in Oregon and Washington.

 “It sounds like propane tank exploding so we're thinking that it's definitely where houses are now,” said an unidentified Oregon homeowner while taking video of the encroaching fire.

State officials in Oregon say thousands of homes have been destroyed as two fires merge into one near suburbs outside Portland.

Dozens of people are missing, and many only escaped with the clothes they had on.

"I keep trying to figure out why people are giving us so many, keep offering us clothes, and then my husband reminded me, because our clothes just got burned," said Lexi Soulios of Talen, Ore.  

In the last month alone, Cal Fire says 22 people have been killed, half of them in the Northern Complex fire now burning east of Chico.

And the deadliest time of fire season is just getting underway.

“We’ve already hit records and we’ve already surpassed where we were last year, but we are just now in the months where historically we experience our largest and our most damaging wildfires,” said Berlant.

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Cal Fire said 16,200 firefighters are battling 28 wildfires across the state.

It’s taking a herculean effort to keep things under control, and the end of fire season is still months away.