A late-season wildfire in central Montana incinerated much of the small farming town of Denton earlier this week. The fire, fueled by high winds and unfettered by any snow, consumed vegetation desiccated by exceptional drought, melted rail cars, and destroyed more than two dozen homes and four grain elevators that had stood for more than a century. “It’s definitely not a good sign that it is this dry in December and this warm,” Brock Linker, a Denton farmer and volunteer firefighter, told the New York Times. “We’ve had zero moisture since May and no sign of any in the future.”

Climate change, caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, is making droughts more frequent and severe, raising temperatures, and supercharging wildfires.  “We’re looking at conditions we haven’t seen for a thousand years in Montana and probably longer in terms of the drought,” Cathy Whitlock, a paleoclimatologist at Montana State University, told the Times. “Temperatures are exceeding what we have seen for the last 11,000 years.” (New York Times $, AP, Great Falls Tribune, The Guardian, Montana Public Radio, Lewistown News-Argus; Record highs across North America: Washington Post $; Climate Signals background: Drought, Extreme heat and heatwaves, Wildfires)