The impact of the still-raging California fires on humans and their homes is tragic and lamentable — but far from unexpected, thanks to homeowners’ tendency to sprawl out and nestle right up to the fire line. Some two-thirds of new building in southern California in the past decade was on tinder-dry, fire-susceptible land, says historian Mike Davis. “You might as well be building next to leaking gasoline cans,” he says. Many homeowners are not deterred. “We’ll stay,” says Richard Sanders of Escondido from a fast-food restaurant, awaiting news of how his house fared. “We like the community, we like the area.” As many scientific studies have concluded that climate change will make wildfires more frequent and more destructive, he may, unfortunately, also have to learn to like the evacuations.

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