Much of the American West is on fire, illustrating the dangers of a climate of extremes

Parts of a half-dozen states from coastal California to the Rocky Mountains are being charred by more than 70 wildfires fed by tinder-dry vegetation, record heat and blustery winds across the region. Smoke has cast a worrisome pall over vast areas of terrain, turning the sky an ominous red and threatening those with allergies and asthma. The West’s climate is becoming one of extremes — periods of soaking rains followed suddenly by high heat.