California’s 2017 wildfire season to rank among most destructive, costly on record

California’s 2017 wildfire season will go down as one of the worst in the state’s history, with a season that lasted longer than normal and featured multiple record-shattering blazes.

From Jan. 1, 2017, through Dec. 31, 2017, over 9,000 fires burned more than 1.2 million acres, an increase from the previous year which brought 6,986 fires burning around 564,000 acres, according to Cal Fire.

The total acreage in 2017 included nearly 300,000 acres burned solely by Thomas Fire, which grew to the largest wildfire in state history in late December.

The Thomas Fire, which remains active as of Jan. 3, has burned 281,893 acres and is over 90 percent contained. The blaze began back on Dec. 4 in Ventura County and exploded in growth thanks for strong Santa Ana winds. It has destroyed over 1,000 structures and claimed two lives.

While the Thomas Fire became the largest California wildfire in recorded history, it was also the seventh-most destructive, in terms of number of structures destroyed, according to Cal Fire. However, two months prior to the Thomas Fire, a new record was set for most destructive wildfire in state history.

Flames rise from the remains of a house that burned down in Santa Rosa, Calif., Monday, Oct. 9, 2017. Wildfires whipped by powerful winds swept through Northern California, sending residents on a headlong flight to safety through smoke and flames as homes burned. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

In October, the Tubbs Fire, which charred over 36,000 acres in the state’s wine country, destroyed 5,643 structures and claimed 22 lives in Sonoma and Napa counties. The number of structures destroyed from the Tubbs Fire alone is more than half of the 10,780 total structures lost to wildfire in 2017 statewide. The 22 deaths also make it the third deadliest wildfire on record in California.

Along with the Tubbs Fire, multiple other destructive blazes damaged critical infrastructure and forced evacuations from Oct. 8 through Oct. 31 across seven counties. Some of the most jarring damage photos came from the city of Santa Rosa, which lost entire sections of neighborhoods.

President Donald Trump approved major disaster declarations in October for the Northern California fires and then again on Jan. 2 for the Southern California fires. The disaster declarations will provide federal assistance for recovery efforts in the state.

The North Bay fires resulted in $9 billion in claimed losses, according to the California Department of Insurance. Across the state, more than 5,700…

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