The most destructive wildfire in California history took place in 1991, when the Tunnel Fire swept through the Oakland and Berkeley hills, killing 25 and destroying 2,900 structures. The fifth-most-damaging wildfire ever to impact California took place in Shasta County in 1999, when the Jones Fire scorched 26,200 acres and destroyed 954 homes, outbuildings and commercial properties.
Cal Fire hasn’t yet completed full damage assessments for the Valley and Butte fires. But based on what’s known so far, the Valley Fire is ranked as the state’s ninth-most-damaging blaze in history, while the Butte Fire is being counted as the 14th.
And both are still burning.
“Information from the Butte Fire and Valley Fire will likely change until the fire is contained and the full damage assessment is complete,” Cal Fire noted when it released a list of the state's 20 most destructive blazes. When it comes to the number of structures leveled in the blazes, “The Valley Fire is likely to increase by several hundred.”
Mark Bove, a senior research meteorologist at an insurance company, said in an interview with Fortune that he believed the Valley Fire was on track to become the most destructive blaze in California history. His estimate is based on insurance losses; according to Fortune, the East Bay Hills fire resulted in an industrywide insurance cost of roughly $3 billion.