In a single week in October 2017, wildfires raging through northern California burned through more than 200,000 acres, consumed 8,900 structures, and took 44 lives. It was one of the most destructive fire seasons on record — and one of the costliest, causing $9.4 billion in damages — but it was also part of a larger trend. In recent years, fire seasons have been starting earlier, burning longer, and reaching areas previously thought safe from their blazes.

The best survival strategy for dealing with these wildfires is to pay attention to whether they’re close to your area and to evacuate as early as possible if authorities tell you to. But sometimes things move too quickly to get out in time. If you’re a backpacker caught in a sudden wildfire sparked by lightning or simply out on foot somewhere and trapped behind a wall of flame, use the tips above to get away safely. 

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Illustrated by Ted Slampyak

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