California's wildfires by the numbers - a look at past seasons

If you think we've had way more than the normal number and size of fires in California this summer you are correct. Even in the long perspective, the numbers are shocking.

Let's compare it to previous years as of Sunday midnight.

Over the last five years, between January 1 and August 5, California has averaged 3,599 fires that consumed a total of about 129,000 acres.

This year, so far, we've had 3,981 fire that have burned 630,000. Add in fires on Federal lands within California there have been 4,723 fires that have consumed some 750,000 acres. That 1,172 square miles, is the total acreage of San Mateo and Marin Counties, with enough left over to add in four times the acreage of San Francisco.  

But, that number may actually be understated by quite a lot. "We're responding to about 50 new fires a day in California at the moment and if you look at that, that can be anywhere from several hundred to several acres of additional fire activity throughout the state. And then, you also have to add in the large fire growth that's occurring throughout the week as well," said Calfire Battalion Chief Jonathan Cox.

California's worst entire fire season was in 2008 when 1.6 million acres were burned. But, with three and a half months left in Northern California's fire season, five and a half months in Southern California's fire season, we're on a pace to exceed that.

In fact, out of the last three decades, only nine full seasons have surpassed where we are right now, less than halfway through this season.

"We are looking, right now, at a fire season that's burning at more than five times the average compared to the past. We've never deployed more than 14,000 firefighters at once in California and we're doing that right now at the beginning of August," said Chief Cox.

Cal Fire's Director says, though each and every day, it has to deal with 45 to 50 news fires, 95% of the fires are put out before they grow beyond 10 acres.