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The Ranch fire moves down the ridge as it spreads towards the town of Upper Lake, California on August 1, 2018. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

California's deadly wildfire season continues, and one staggering data point illustrates just how serious things are: Three of the state's top 10 largest wildfires on record are burning at the same time.

Why this matters: California forests are primed to burn after the state saw its hottest month on record in July, and vegetation is at record levels of dryness. Ominously, the peak of the California wildfire season doesn't arrive until September and October.

By the numbers

The largest single wildfire in modern California history is currently burning in Colusa County, Lake County and Mendocino County. The Ranch Fire had scorched 295,970 acres as of Monday morning, and was 59% contained. This beats the size of the Thomas Fire, which torched 281,893 acres just last year.

  • The Ranch Fire, together with the River Fire burning nearby, comprise the Mendocino Complex Fire. This ranks as the state's largest fire complex on record, at a staggering 344,890 acres. It was 68% contained as of Monday morning.
  • Until the Mendocino Complex, no single or combination of wildfires in California history had eclipsed 300,000 acres burned. This year, it's possible that multiple fires and fire complexes will exceed this threshold.

The Carr Fire, which is burning in Shasta and Trinity Counties, has now grown to 202,976 acres and was 61% contained as of Monday morning. This puts the blaze at the 8th spot on the state's top 10 list of largest fires.

At this point, 9 of the top 10 largest wildfires in California history (as with the top 3 list, this includes both the Ranch Fire and the Mendocino Complex Fire) have occurred since the year 2000.

The bottom line

There is a clear trend, driven by climate change, decades of fire management policies and human development, toward larger fires in California and the West in general. Heat is a big factor in worsening these fires.

California had its hottest month on record in July, with average temperatures at 5°F above the 20th Century average. Death Valley, California, set a record for the hottest month of any location on Earth, NOAA found.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

Biden administration to lift travel ban for fully vaccinated international travelers

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients announced on Monday that the Biden administration will allow fully vaccinated travelers from around the world to enter the U.S. beginning in November.

Why it matters: The announcement comes as President Biden seeks commitments from countries to donate vaccines to the global COVAX initiative. He is expected to host a COVID summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this week, and many of the countries attending have expressed frustration with the travel ban.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Gen Z breaks into VC

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

When Meagan Loyst joined VC firm Lerer Hippeau, less than two years out of Boston College, she was still living with her parents. She had virtually no online brand presence, and the pandemic made it impossible to build a professional network via in-person meetings.

Why it matters: Loyst wasn't alone. Venture firms have accelerated hiring in line with record deal activity, often seeking younger investors who can spot trends that fly below the radar (or intrinsic understanding) of older partners.

White House aims to protect workers from extreme heat

Two pear pickers in Hood River, Ore. on Aug. 13. Photo: Michael Hanson/AFP via Getty Images

The White House announced a slew of actions Monday, including the start of a rule-making process at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to protect American workers from extreme heat.

Driving the news: The U.S. just had its hottest summer on record, with triple-digit-temperatures killing hundreds in the Pacific Northwest and exposing outdoor workers to dangerous conditions.