“We didn’t need a crystal ball to see this coming.”

BY MARK KAUFMAN

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Image: Mashable composite / shutterstock / my photo buddy

The great blazes burning the West are like colossal campfires.

What do you need to start a campfire? You need to burn some kindling. “The more kindling you have, the better your fire is going to burn,” said Valerie Trouet, a paleoclimatologist who researches forest ecosystems at the University of Arizona. “And the drier it is, the better it’s going to burn.”

In the Western U.S., the burning is historic. This largely isn’t good fire. You’ve no doubt seen the satellite images of profoundly thick smoke smothering the Golden State, or an airliner taking off through San Francisco’s eerie orange skies. …

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