“We keep having these intense fires that are supposed to be once-in-a-lifetime and now we’ve had five of them in the last couple years,” said Firefighter Joe Stewart. 

“It affects what we define as success,” he said.  “You have 200 homes destroyed. Five years ago, that would have been crazy.  Losing 200 … was a victory that no one died … The next fire we might lose 500 homes and still say it’s a victory.”

Firefighters say drier conditions – which scientists attribute to climate shifts – are bringing longer and more intense fire seasons, driven in part by more flammable vegetation and hotter winds.

The increase in fires prompted 10% of insurers to refuse to renew policies in wildfire-prone areas in California in 2018, according to the state Department of Insurance.

 

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