Paradise, California, had long prepared for wildfires. But only in its worst nightmares did it imagine the kind of "mega-fire" that last week destroyed most of the town — and is becoming a common occurrence in the state.

Born of tinder-dry conditions and erratic winds, the Camp Fire was the latest Californian mega-fire, a huge blaze that burns more intensely and quickly than anything the state has experienced before.

The U.S. Forest Service defines a mega-fire as a blaze that burns more than 100,000 acres (40,000 hectares).