In case you haven’t heard, there are some crazy fires going down in southern California. At the time of this posting, some 400,000 acres have burned, igniting more than 1,500 structures, including some 1,000 homes. An estimated 700,000 people have been evacuated; two have died. The White House has declared a state of emergency, and health officials are urging children, the elderly, and the sick to stay indoors to avoid breathing in soot particles. Guess we’ll get an answer to the question we posed last year: “Could a Western wildfire be the country’s next Katrina?” Um, we meant it rhetorically.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.