Get the latest market trends in your inbox

Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with the Axios Markets newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Alex Schenck carries a water bucket while fighting to save his home near Clearlake Oaks, California. Photo: Noah Berger/AFP/Getty Images

California's wildfire woes continue to escalate as the Mendocino Fire Complex, which consists of two, gradually merging blazes known as the Ranch Fire and the River Fire, exploded in size over the weekend to become the state's second-largest wildfire on record — behind last year's Thomas Fire.

The big picture: California is enduring another deadly wildfire year with eight large fires burning Monday. The Mendocino Fire Complex stood at 273,664 acres on Monday morning and was only 30% contained. The blaze spread smoke across San Francisco, leading to an eerie sunrise.

  • The fire complex may soon become the largest fire ever recorded in the Golden State, as a heat wave continues to bake the length of the state while historically dry vegetation stands ready to burn.
  • To put its size in perspective, the Mendocino Fire Complex is about 19 times larger than the island of Manhattan and is about 1.25 times larger than the city of Dallas.
  • When considered separately, the Ranch Fire alone has jumped to 201,000 acres — enough to put it on the state's top-10 largest fires list.

Last year, the Thomas Fire burned 281,893 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. Given the opportunity for the Mendocino Fire Complex to continue to expand, it's likely that it will take the top spot in terms of acres burned.

  • It's no accident that the majority of the largest fires — 14 out of the top 20 — have occurred since the year 2000.
Satellite image shows wildfire heat signatures in red and smoke plumes from large wildfires burning on Aug. 6, 2018. Photo: NASA Worldview

How it works: California's wildfire crisis didn't happen overnight, and it's not all due to any single factor, either. Rather, experts say it's because of a number of trends that each act to raise the odds of large fires, including:

  • Decades of fire suppression policies that have left forests with thicker vegetation cover than they otherwise would have had.
  • Land management practices that have encouraged or allowed humans to build close to or inside the areas that typically would see wildfires relatively frequently, known as the Wildland Urban Interface.
  • Long-term drought, which has dried soils and vegetation and killed millions of trees, leaving them vulnerable to fires.
  • Climate change, which has increased temperatures, worsened drought conditions and further dried out vegetation.

Study after study has shown that global warming is already making wildfires larger in many Western states and is lengthening fire seasons as well. As the climate continues to warm, extreme heat events and drought are increasingly likely in the West, making wildfire conditions even more dangerous.

The bottom line: California is experiencing more of its largest fires on record — well before the typical peak in the state's wildfire season, which tends to come in October. Because of the factors listed above, wildfire season now lasts all year in California and many other Western states.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Broncos and 49ers the latest NFL teams impacted by coronavirus crisis

From left, Denver Broncos quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel during an August training session at UCHealth Training Center in Englewood, Colorado. Photo: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the NFL season into chaos, with the Denver Broncos' quarterbacks sidelined, the San Francisco 49ers left without a home or practice ground and much of the Baltimore Ravens team unavailable, per AP.

Driving the news: The Broncos confirmed in a statement Saturday night that quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were identified as "high-risk COVID-19 close contacts" and will follow the NFL's mandatory five-day quarantine, making them ineligible for Sunday's game against New Orleans.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: McConnell temporarily halts in-person lunches for GOP caucus.
  3. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in DecemberAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  4. Education: U.S. public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists.
  5. Cities: Surge in cases forces San Francisco to impose curfew — Los Angeles County issues stay-at-home order, limits gatherings.
  6. Sports: NFL bans in-person team activities Monday, Tuesday due to COVID-19 surge — NBA announces new coronavirus protocols.
  7. World: London police arrest more than 150 during anti-lockdown protests — Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.

Tony Hsieh, longtime Zappos CEO, dies at 46

Tony Hsieh. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic

Tony Hsieh, the longtime ex-chief executive of Zappos, died on Friday after being injured in a house fire, his lawyer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He was 46.

The big picture: Hsieh was known for his unique approach to management, and following the 2008 recession his ongoing investment and efforts to revitalize the downtown Las Vegas area.