Since the year 2000 California has experienced a remarkable upsurge in wildfires. Over five million hectares have burned in the last 20 years, which is double the area burned in the previous two decades. Much of this increase has been driven by large fires of more than 50,000 hectares that cause catastrophic losses of lives and property (Keeley and Syphard 2019). This increased fire activity has been correlated with an increase in average temperature over this same period, leading many observers to assert that global climate change must be playing a major role. Climate models forecast continued warming and thus some have suggested these catastrophic fires are the “new normal” or the “new abnormal” (Birnbaum 2018). In contrast, others have declared that these fires are the result of ‘forest mismanagement’ (Cranley 2018) and this has stimulated renewed interest in fuel reduction (Office of Governor 2019). It’s almost as though these opinions aren’t even in reference to the same fires, and as described below, there is some validity to this assertion.