Just to the south, a fast-moving wildfire spewed an ominous cloud of smoke that enveloped the Carquinez Bridge. And down in Southern California, the Getty Fire broke out early Monday morning, rapidly consuming 500 acres and threatening thousands of homes. Not far away, the Tick Fire has seared thousands of acres, resulting in devastating scenes of families fleeing for their lives. All told, over a dozen simultaneous fires are turning paradisiacal California into a surreal kind of underworld, threatening hundreds of thousands of lives directly, and indirectly compromising the respiratory health of still more in metropolises downwind, like the San Francisco Bay Area.It’s no coincidence that these wildfires are all burning at once. Climate change has stolen the rain that normally would rehydrate the state at this time of year. Seasonal winds blowing from the northeast have sucked out what little moisture that vegetation still holds after a dry summer, turning whole landscapes into tinder. A single spark can ignite a wind-driven wildfire that moves with such speed firefighters can’t safely confront it, even from the air, as flame retardants dropped from planes and helicopters blow off course in the gusts. Mounting evidence is also suggesting that climate change is creating ever-fiercer windstorms that tear through California. The result is what fire historian Steve Pyne calls the Pyrocene : climate change and land misuse conspiring to create a unique period in Earth and human history, a sort of Ice Age, but with flames.