Ever since the Thomas fire erupted Dec. 4, it has steadily burned its way up the list of California’s largest wildfires since the Great Depression.
That list, however, does not include what some consider to be California’s largest known wildfire — the 1889 Santiago Canyon fire, which scorched 300,000 acres in Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties.
The official California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection list of the top 20 wildfires dates back only to 1932, because records before then “are less reliable,” the department says. The largest fire on the list is the 2003 Cedar fire, which burned more than 273,000 acres and killed 15 people.
By Saturday, the Thomas fire had burned more than 260,500 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and was 40 percent contained. It rose from fourth-largest to third-largest fire on record in the state.
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