Top 10 biggest wildfires in California history

August 7th, 2013 | by Kate McGinty | Comments
Silver Fire

Dave Clark calls neighbors as his own home burns Wednesday in Twin Pines. (Richard Lui/The Desert Sun)

Three wildfires have blanketed the Coachella Valley area with smoke in the last month:

The Mountain Fire was contained July 30 at 27,531 acres, while the Tram Fire was contained Wednesday at 60 acres.

The Silver Fire sparked Wednesday near Banning and spread to 5,000 acres in less than four hours.

The most talked about blaze in recent Riverside County history has been Esperanza Fire, which killed five firefighters in 2006, burned 40,200 acres.


Cal Fire ranks the following as the biggest fires since 1932 (by acreage burned):

  1. Cedar: 273,246 acres — San Diego County, October 2003
  2. Rush: 271,911 in California plus 43,666 in Nevada Lassen County, August 2012
  3. Zaca: 240,207 Santa Barbara County, July 2007
  4. Matilija: 220,000 Ventura County, September 1932
  5. Witch: 197,900 San Diego County, October 2007
  6. Klamath Theater Complex: 192,038 — Siskiyou County, June 2008
  7. Marble Cone: 177,866 Monterey County, July 1977
  8. Laguna: 175,424 — San Diego County, September 1970
  9. Basin Complex: 162,818 Monterey County, June 2008
  10. Day Fire: 162,702 — Ventura County, September 2006


None of the state’s Top 20 fires in history have been in Riverside County.

See the complete Top 20 list here.

The biggest fire by number of structures destroyed was the Tunnel fire, which started in October 1991 in Alameda County. It burned 1,600 acres and destroyed 2,900 structures.

See the Top 20 fires by structures destroyed here.

Follow our around-the-clock coverage of the ongoing Silver Fire at @MyDesert and at our Facebook page.

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