The CaseyGerry fire team has helped thousands of people affected by the fires that have ravaged the state of California. Our beautiful state has a devastating history of wildfires that have affected our landscape, our infrastructure, and members of our community. As we gear up for the upcoming fire season, here is a brief history of the most impactful wildfires between 2000 and 2023.

The state of California experienced many devastating wildfires since 2000, which caused significant loss of life and property. Here are some of the most disastrous of those fires.

Cedar Fire (October 2003)

The Cedar Fire occurred in San Diego County in October 2023. The Cedar Fire was considered one of the most destructive fires in California’s history. It led to mass evacuations across the county, burning about 273,246 acres of land, destroying almost 3000 structures, and causing 15 fatalities.

The fire started on October 25 and rapidly spread across the county fueled by dry conditions and strong Santa Ana winds. Thousands of emergency responders joined the efforts to curb the fire including firefighters, police, and military. Despite efforts, the fire raged on until November 3, 2003, when it was finally contained.

The fire was started in the Cleveland National Forest near Santa Ysabel when a lost hunter set a signal fire. Unfortunately, the dry conditions and the Santa winds led to the devastating fires that tremendously impacted the county and the lives of those in the region.

Old Fire (October 2003)

The Old Fire started on October 25, 2003, in San Bernardino County when an individual set several fires ablaze, one of which resulted in the Old Fire. The Old Fire burned through the region destroying 91,000 acres and many structures. Unfortunately, six lives were lost in the fire.

2007 Southern California Wildfires

Southern California was hit by several wildfires in 2007 that destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres, and thousands of structures. Here are the most destructive fires of 2007.

Witch Fire (October 2007)

The Witch Fire started on October 21, 2007, by a malfunctioning power line in the Witch Creek area. The poorly maintained power line sparked and ignited the surrounding vegetation. Dry and windy conditions fueled the fire causing it to spread rapidly through several communities in San Diego County affecting the areas of Ramona, Escondido, Rancho Bernardo, and Rancho Santa Fe. The fires burned through approximately 198,000 acres and destroyed 1,600 structures and caused two fatalities.

Harris Fire/Harris Ranch Fire (October 2007)

Another fire that was quickly spreading through San Diego County was the Harris Fire.

The Harris Fire also started on October 21, 2007, and was caused by a broken support wire on a San Diego Gas & Electric power line which sparked and set surrounding vegetation on fire.

The Harris Fire spread rapidly and burned through Southeastern San Diego communities including Potrero, Jamul, Dulzura and Tecate. The Harris fire burned 90,440 acres of land and destroyed over 250 structures. Unfortunately, it claimed the lives of eight people.

On October 25, 2007, the Witch fire merged with the Harris fire, resulting in one of the most devastating fires in Southern California history. The fires were not fully contained until mid-November 2007.

Santiago Fire (October 2007)

The Santiago Fire started on October 21, 2007, and burned approximately 28,000 acres of land in Orange County and destroyed more than 20 structures.

The fire was caused by a deliberate act of arson and the dry conditions and Santa Ana winds contributed to the fire spreading quickly across the county. The Santiago fires threatened the communities of Modjeska Canyon, Silverado Canyon and Foothill Ranch.

Emergency responders and firefighters worked to contain the fire and protect the community. The fire was finally contained on November 9, 2007.

Tubbs Fire (October 2017)

On October 8, 2017, a private electrical system failure ignited a fire near Tubbs Lane in Calistoga, in Northern California.

The dry conditions and strong winds led to the rapid spread of the fire impacting communities in Napa and Sonoma. The Tubbs fire burned almost 37,000 acres and destroyed more than 5600 structures. It also led to 22 fatalities making it one of the deadliest fires in California’s recent history.

There were several factors that contributed to the high fatality rate in the Tubbs fire.

The Tubbs fire started late at night catching residents unaware. This led to limited warning time for evacuations and left some people trapped. Fueled by the conditions and dry vegetation, the fire spread rapidly in the highly populated area. The poor communication and infrastructure in place provided even more challenges with many people failing to receive timely evacuation notifications.

Thomas Fire (December 2017)

In December 2017, a faulty conductor belonging to Southern California Edison sparked the Thomas Fire. The spark set surrounding vegetation ablaze and, fueled by dry conditions and high winds, the fire spread rapidly across Ventura County and Santa Barbara. The Thomas Fire burned almost 282,000 acres, destroying over 1000 structures, and causing two fatalities.

Fire fighters worked round the clock for weeks to contain the fire. The Thomas fire was finally contained on January 12, 2018.

At the time, it was the largest wildfire in California and sparked discussions for improved efforts in fire prevention measures.

Camp Fire (November 2018)

The 2018 Camp Fire started on the morning of November 8, 2018, when an a malfunctioning power line owned by utility company, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) sparked and ignited the surrounding vegetation.

The fire started near Camp Creek Road, around Pulga in Butte County, Northern California. The dry conditions, strong winds and the presence of dry winds caused the fire to spread aggressively, burning Paradise and the communities around it. The ferocious spread of the fire left the communities little time to react. It blazed through the town of Paradise destroying 18,000 homes, businesses, and other infrastructure. In addition, the fast spread of the Camp Fire left residents with no time to evacuate and it has become known as one of the deadliest wildfires in history because it claimed the lives of 85 individuals.

The Camp Fire also impacted the towns of Maglia, Concow and Butte Creek Canyon, causing extensive damage to structures.

The Camp Fire burned approximately 153,336 acres in Butte County and destroyed more than 18,000 structures, the majority of which were homes, schools, and other community facilities.

Fire fighters and first responders worked round the clock to contain the fire. Due to the destruction and continued danger posed by the fire, support to firefighting efforts came from other communities and federal entities.

The Camp Fire was finally contained on November 25, 2018, 17 days after it started. It remains one of the most deadly and destructive fires and the communities of Paradise, Butte and others are still recovering in the aftermath.


California experienced an extremely severe wildfire season in 2020 with several wildfires burning across the state.

The August Complex Fire (August 2020)

The August Complex Fire was made up of over 30 consecutively burning fires with the four largest being Doe Fire, Tatham Fire, Glade Fire and Hull Fire. The fire started because of lightning strikes and the dry conditions, strong winds and terrain fueled its rapid growth.

The complex fire burned through multiple counties in Northern California including Mendocino, Humboldt, Glenn, Tehama and Trinity. Evacuation orders were issued for many communities such as Elk Creek, Covelo and Upper Lake.  Almost 1,000 structures were damaged, however, due to the remote location of the fire, fatalities were limited to one firefighter.

However, the true damage was to the Mendocino National Forest where the fire started and burned more than one million acres causing extensive damage to the forest, wildlife habitat and vegetation.

Fire fighters, first responders and emergency responders fought the August Complex Fire tirelessly, finally containing it on November 12, 2020 – several months after it started.

The Dixie Fire (July 2021)

The Dixie Fire started in Feather River Canyon on July 13, 2021. The fire started when a tree fell on a power line belonging to Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), igniting the surrounding area. 2021 was noted as one of the hottest and driest in California history. The fire spread rapidly, affecting several counties in Northern California including Butte, Plumas, Shasta, Lassen, Tehama.

The fire destroyed 1329 structures and damaged 96 more. It burned for over 100 days and was finally contained in October 2021. Several firefighters were injured in firefighting efforts, and one died.

Debate on the cause of the fire followed with some blaming climate change. However, prosecutors laid the blame on PG&E, determining that the utility company’s failure to maintain its equipment ignited the spark and caused the fire.



The CaseyGerry Fire team recognizes the importance of understanding and documenting California’s Wildfire history. Even as we continue to represent those affected by recent wildfires, we are also committed to doing our part to prevent, inform and affect positive change to keep all Californian’s safe in the event of a fire.

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