The blazes in Northern California are being called "firestorms," "hurricanes" and "blizzards of flame." They've been compared to a "blowtorch." In a state where wildfires are hardly uncommon, experts say civilian casualties and property loss are "historic" — like "nothing [they've] ever seen." The death toll is at least 42; some 3000 homes were destroyed; 213,000 acres have been turned into charred wastelands. Survivors are warned that debris is too toxic to allow digging for beloved possessions; smoke and ashes are causing health problems for miles around. What caused the fires? Why did they spread? Can the next ones be prevented?