This year’s Whitewater Baldy Complex fire in New Mexico is the largest in the state’s history. (Photo by Gila National Forest.)

Dire fire conditions, like the inferno of heat, turbulence, and fuel that recently turned 346 homes in Colorado Springs, Colo., to ash, are now common in the West. A lethal combination of drought, insect plagues, windstorms, and legions of dead, dying, or stressed-out trees constitute what some pundits are calling wildfire’s “perfect storm.”

They are only half right.