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Just months after the Carr and Mendocino Complex fires ripped through nearly 700,000 acres of northern California in 2018, the wind-driven Camp Fire erupted near Chico. The fire scorched through the abnormally dry vegetation, blazing and spreading rapidly, and at one time burned some 10,000 acres in just 90 minutes. It caught the residents of the cozy town of Paradise, nestled in the western Sierra Nevada forests, completely by surprise. The conflagration quickly consumed the entire town, destroying everything and killing 85 people.

Most of the rest of the 26,000 residents fled, and survivors relocated, mostly to California’s Central Valley. Around a quarter have returned to rebuild their homes and communities, despite the fire risks, but many of Paradise’s diaspora cannot or do not want to attempt doing so. Now that they’ve been uprooted, they’re moving on with their lives elsewhere.

Such a scenario is a sign of what’s to come for a growing swath of Americans in the climate-change era, Abrahm Lustgarten argues in “On the Move: The […]

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