Caldwell and Gillem fires merge, California’s largest since 2018

The Caldwell and Gillem fires have merged and are approaching 80,000 acres, with another hot and windy day expected Thursday.

The Caldwell Fire, sparked by lightning, has been burning since July 22 in the area of Lava Beds National Monument, in Modoc and Siskiyou counties. The Gillem Fire was also started by lightning, on Monday, at the larger fire’s northwest corner.

Firefighters Wednesday contended with gusty winds and low humidity, and the red-flag warning for those conditions has been extended through 8 p.m. Friday, said the latest report from the Modoc National Forest.

The merged fire, called Caldwell, is at 79,316 acres (124 square miles) and 45% contained, the forest agency said. It is one of three lightning-sparked wildfires in the July Complex: Allen is at 1,035 acres and Dalton at 1,367 acres, and both are completely contained.

The Caldwell Fire is California’s largest since the Camp and Woolsey fires of November 2018 — 153,336 and 96,949 acres, respectively. The largest fire of the 2019 season was Kincade, 77,758 acres.

Mercury News contributed to this post