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When state fire authorities announced recently that the CZU Lightning Complex fire had quadrupled in size in just one day, an audible gasp rose from the audience.

Although lightning fires have been scorching the state since prehistoric times, the speed with which the SCU and LNU lightning complex fires became the second- and third-largest blazes ever recorded in California has startled emergency officials and strained firefighting resources. The fires have killed seven people, destroyed more than 2,100 buildings and made air unhealthy across the Bay Area.

And things may only get worse in the future, experts say.

“There’s a direct relationship between heat and fire, and increasing heat is inevitable for at least a few decades,” said Michael Gerrard, director of Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. “If you like 2020, you’re going to love 2050.”

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