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The October 2026 Southern California Wildfires were a series of wildfires that burned a large area of Southern California. At least 2 fires occurred, the largest so far being the Blackhawk Fire, which burned approximately 552,916 acres. At least 184 people were killed in the fires. San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernandino, and Ventura counties were particularly hard hit. Orange County was almost completely destroyed by the Gist Fire.


Synopsis

On October 11, a Santa Ana wind event began across Los Angeles, Ventura, Riverside, San Bernandino, San Diego, Riverside, and Imperial counties. The winds were deemed historic, with winds in the coastal areas, valleys, and deserts sustained at 45-50 mph, with gusts as high as 80 mph. In the mountain areas, winds gusted to 120 mph and were sustained at 80 mph. These remarkable winds were accompanied by single digit humidity levels in all regions and temperatures in the triple digits in all areas. The winds peaked on October 12,13,18, 21, 22, and 23, with triple digit heat and single digit humidity lasting from October 11 to October 24. However, by October 20, most of the burnable open land in Southern California was already burnt away, which is why no new notable fires erupted after October 18. At first, the Santa Ana's were blowing from the north-east. However, on October 14, another high pressure formed over Baja California, causing the winds to shift towards the north-west, catching fire fighters off-guard. This is what caused the Gist fire and a few other fires to grow to the size they did.

Notable Fires

For a fire to have been considered notable, it must have destroyed at least 10,000 acres of land or 500 buildings.

Name County(ies) Area Burned (Acres) Fire Map Dates Cause Notes
Japatul Fire San Diego 24,573
Japatul Fire Map
October 11 - October 14 Downed powerlines Destroyed 34 buildings. 4 people injured.
Cheseboro Fire Los Angeles 37,362
Cheseboro Fire Map
October 11 - October 24 Car fire 28 buildings destroyed. 1 fatality.
Desert Fire San Diego 215,824
Desert Fire Map
October 12 - October 20 Illegal camp fire 1,362 buildings destroyed. 3 deaths, 47 injuries. Borrego Springs and Ranchita completely destroyed, and northern Julian was burnt down.
Gist Fire San Diego, Orange, Riverside, Los Angeles, San Bernandino 548,275
Gist Fire Map
October 12 - October 22 Downed power lines 878,500 buildings destroyed. 180 deaths. 167 injuries. The cities of Vista, Oceanside, Fallbrook, San Clemente, Dana Point, and Laguna Niel were destroyed. Carlsbad, Mission Viejo, Irvine, Tustin, and Yorba Linda were largely destroyed. Number of buildings damaged is an estimate accurate number is between 800,000 and 950,000 buildings.
Hughes Fire Los Angeles 54,826
Hughes Fire Map
October 12 - October 18 Car fire 187 buildings destroyed. 3 injuries.
El Captain Fire San Diego 16,284
El Captain Fire Map
October 12 - October 17 Downed power lines 153 buildings destroyed.
Blackhawk Fire San Bernandino, Los Angeles 552,916
Blackhawk Fire Map
October 12 - October 24 Downed power lines 5,281 buildings destroyed. 36 deaths, 538 injuries. Of that, 29 deaths and 517 injuries were from smoke inhalation. The smoke was so heavy that at one point during the fire, every school district in Los Angeles County was closed.
Fourfork Fire Ventura, Los Angeles 184,752
Fourfork Fire Map
October 13 - October 23 Improperly disposed cigarette butt 117,563 buildings destroyed. 14 deaths, 29 injuries. Ventura, Santa Paula, and Ojai were completely destroyed. Sparks were blown across the Santa Clara River and ignited in a golf course in Oxnard. Nearly half of Oxnard was destroyed.
Long Canyon Fire Los Angeles 8,960
Long Canyon Fire
October 13 - October 16 Downed power lines 818 buildings destroyed. 4 deaths, 7 injuries.
Silverrock Fire Riverside 17,826
Silverrock Fire Map
October 13 - October 17 Golf cart crash 248 buildings destroyed. 7 deaths, 18 injuries. Started at a resort golf course where a golf cart crashed and caught on fire. Quickly grew out of control due to winds. A La Quinta neighborhood of 342 people was completely destroyed.
Airmen Fire Kern, Los Angeles 75,452
Airmen Fire Map
October 13 - October 22 House fire 1,382 buildings destroyed. 24 deaths, 39 injuries. Edwards Air Force Base and the cities of Edwards, Fairmont, Three Points, and Sanberg were completely destroyed. Rosamond was largely destroyed and the fire burned the outer reaches of Lancaster.
Coronado Fire San Diego 3,263
Coronado Fire Map
October 14 - October 16 Downed powerlines 87 buildings destroyed. 8 injuries.

Started at a naval base on Coronado island. Half of the island burned down. Notable for destroying San Diego's major naval base.

Los Virgenes Fire Los Angeles 11,683
Los Virgenes Fire Map
October 16 - October 21 Car fire 838 buildings destroyed. 3 deaths, 2 injuries.
Rimrock Fire San Bernandino 48,924
Rimrock Fire Map
October 17 - October 23 Downed power lines 219 buildings destroyed. Almost burned Mount San Gorgonio.

Other Fires

1,000 acre fire map

Each red dot represents an area where a fire of at least 1,000 acres started

There were 173 fires that burned at least 50 acres of land, 83 that burned at least 100 acres, 28 that burned at least 1,000 acres, 12 that burned more than 10,000 acres, and 4 that burned at least 100,000 acres. One 22 acre fire burned in the San Diego Zoo, killing 67 exotic animals and 6 people in the zoo. The relatively low death toll was due to the fire starting in a closed off area and it moved slow, allowing most people and animals to escape. Another fire burned in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, killing one person. The observatory was also burnt down in the 735 acre fire.

Gallery

  • The Gist fire approaches a Bonsall community.
  • The Hughes fire burns a radio station.
  • The Cheseboro fire burns in the heart of the Angeles National Forest.
  • An airplane drops fire retardant on the Blackhawk fire.
  • The Gist Fire burning in the Chino Hills State Park.
  • Smoke from the gist fire blankets Disneyland.
  • The Fourfork fire approaches Fillmore.
  • The El Captain fire 2 hours after ignition.
  • The Desert fire nearing homes in Hellohole Palms.
  • The Gist fire seen from Escondido.
  • Drivers scramble for cover as the Blackhawk fire crosses the Interstate 138.
  • The Long Canyon fire burns homes in Thousand Oaks.
  • Homes in Rosamond destroyed by the Airmen fire.
  • This vineyard near the Gist fire start location was partially burned down.
  • A Rosamond neighborhood destroyed by the Airmen fire.
  • Cars destroyed by a fire in Mission Trails, near El Cajon.
  • A neighborhood in La Quinta destroyed by the Silverrock fire.