California’s largest wildland fire started by hammer sparks

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California fire officials say sparks from a hammer driving a metal stake into the ground ignited a 2018 blaze in Northern California that killed a firefighter and became the largest wildland fire in state history.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Thursday the blaze started July 17, 2018, in Mendocino County and quickly spread, aided by tinder dry vegetation, strong winds and hot temperatures. It spread to Colusa, Glenn and Lake counties.

The blaze burned a total of 640 square miles (1,660 square kilometers), much of it in the Mendocino National Forest, making it the largest wildland fire, or fire on undeveloped land, in state history. It also destroyed 280 structures and killed a firefighter from Utah.

Cal Fire did not identify the person who ignited the blaze. It says no charges will be filed.


This story has been corrected to say the fire in Mendocino County was the largest wildland fire in state history, not the largest fire in state history.

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