Among the more arresting spectacles in a California wildfire are burning palm trees. In December 2017, as a seasonal resident of rural San Diego County, I had a ringside seat. Drought-desiccated palm crowns exploded in pyrotechnics as the Santa Ana winds stoking the “Lilac Fire” drove their flaming brands down the San Luis Rey River valley, over firefighting lines and onto hillsides, barns, and homes.
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