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Embers smoulder along a hillside after the Ranch Fire, part of the Mendocino Complex Fire, burned though the area near Clearlake Oaks, California, on August 5, 2018. Credit: Noah Berger/AFP via Getty Images

The Mendocino Fire Complex, which is comprised of two separate fires burning in close proximity in Lake and Mendocino Counties, has become the state's largest wildfire on record.

The details: The Mendocino Complex was just 34% contained as of Tuesday morning, and it's likely that it will continue to expand as a heat wave and extremely dry conditions remain in place through the week. The Mendocino Complex is about 19 times the size of Manhattan, and about 1.25 times the the size of Dallas.

The big picture: At 290,692 acres, the Mendocino Complex has eclipsed last year's Thomas Fire, which set the record at 281,000 acres.

  • Although President Trump has repeatedly blamed state water allocations for the severity of the fires, experts say that a combination of decades of fire suppression policies combined with expanded development in fire-prone areas, along with climate change, is making wildfires burn hotter, longer and grow larger in California.
  • It's especially noteworthy that the Mendocino Complex has set the record outside of the typical peak of the wildfire season in California, which occurs in October and November, before winter rains arrive.
  • Likewise, the Thomas Fire burned during the winter last year, which was also outside the historical norm.
  • Fourteen of the top 20 fires in California history have occurred in the last 10 years.

The bottom line: Although climate change does not "cause" a specific fire, study after study has shown that global warming is already making the West's wildfire challenges much worse, by lengthening fire seasons and raising the odds of more days with extreme fire danger. As the climate continues to warm, extreme heat events and drought are increasingly likely in the West, making wildfire conditions even more dangerous.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement.

State of play: Authorities had initially declined to release the name of the 44-year-old suspect or identify the hostages, all adults, though police chief Michael Miller confirmed that one of those held was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who leads the congregation.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron — Deaths are climbing as cases skyrocket.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: West Virginia governor feeling "extremely unwell" after positive test — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers — America struggles to keep schools open
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker
7 hours ago - Sports

Novak Djokovic loses Australian visa appeal

Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a forehand during a practice session ahead of the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 14, 2022. Photo: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

Tennis star Novak Djokovic left Australia on Sunday evening, facing a three-year visa ban after an appeals court in the country revoked his visa.

Driving the news: Djokovic will not be able to defend his Australian Open title when the tournament starts in Melbourne. The World No. 1 is looking to break a three-way tie with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for most Grand Slam men's singles titles.