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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:

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Photo: Illustration by Cezary Kowalski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday recommended the authorization of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot coronavirus vaccine for emergency use.

Why it matters: The FDA is expected to make a final decision within days on the J&J vaccine, which was found to be 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID. An emergency use authorization would allow distribution to immediately begin, helping streamline and speed up the vaccine rollout across the U.S.

Dave Lawler, author of World
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The report released Friday on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was short on evidence or new information, but Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) tells Axios that the “definitive” statement assigning responsibility to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) speaks volumes.

What he’s saying: Schiff, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, says that while some intelligence couldn’t be published because of the need to protect sources and methods, “we rarely see something published that is this definitive and I think that's an important accomplishment for the administration.”

Exclusive: Law enforcement organizations back Biden pick for assistant AG

Vanita Gupta Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Local and federal law enforcement officials are backing Vanita Gupta, President Biden’s nominee for associate attorney general, according to letters sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee and obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The Major County Sheriffs of America noted Gupta “emphasized that she does not support efforts to ‘defund the police'” and highlighted her desire to improve criminal justice through methods that include increased training for law enforcement officials.