The Valley fire started small, with just a few patches of burning grass on the northern slope of Cobb Mountain. But it took just 12 hours for wind-whipped flames to torch nearly 63 square miles and forever scar the communities of south Lake County, including Middletown, Cobb and Hidden Valley Lake.
It would become California’s third-worst wildfire, killing four people, destroying 1,281 homes and consuming 76,067 acres. Economic losses are expected to surpass $1.5 billion.
Shortly after the start of the fire, The Press Democrat’s reporters and photographers were on the front lines, delivering articles, photos and videos of the unfolding catastrophe. This site collects the paper’s best work from the days and months after the fire broke out on Sept. 12, 2015.