California burns every year. But amid a record-breaking heatwave, 2020 is the fieriest year yet.
As The Economist went to press, more than 7,600 fires had burned over 2.5m acres (1m hectares) of land. The season still has months to run.
That fits a long-term trend, for California's wildfires are getting steadily worse.
Blazes in the 2010s burned 6.8m acres on average, up from 3.3m acres in the 1990s.
The fire season lasts nearly three months longer now than it did in the 1970s.
Over the past decade, the state has spent an average of $3.7bn a year fighting fires.
Add the cost of rebuilding, treating casualties and restoration, says Headwaters Economics, a think-tank, and that is perhaps a tenth of the total cost.
Although smaller than this year's, the 2018 fire season was particularly destructive. It killed 100 people and burned tens of thousands of buildings.
The reason is a double whammy of climate change and development.
More homes are being built next to forests, in what experts call the "wildland-urban interface" (WUI).
A 2018 study estimated that roughly a third of American homes were in the WUI. The problem is acute in California.
Pricey housing has pushed people onto cheaper land close to the wilderness.
At the same time, climate change is extending the dry season, which stores up fuel for fires.
In California, a chronic "megadrought"—in which dry years become more common and wet ones scarcer—is making matters even worse.
One paper, citing tree-ring data, concluded that the drought, which started around 2000, is the second-worst in the past 1,200 years.
It, too, has been linked to climate change. Since neither trend shows much sign of reversing,
people on America's west coast will have to learn to co-exist with more, and more frequent, fires.
"It's not that different to building on an earthquake-prone landscape," says Max Moritz, a wildfire expert at the University of California at Santa Barbara.