Fires ravaged San Diego County last week, charring more than 26,000 acres of drought-parched brush and dozens of homes and buildings in the process. A combination of unseasonable triple-digit temperatures, extremely low humidity and hot winds blowing in from the desert stoked the blazes, kicking off what promises to be a historically destructive wildfire season.
“We get extreme fire behavior every 10 years and the drought doesn’t help. This is very odd for the month of May to have these types of fires,” Cal Fire Capt. Richard Cordova told TIME on Saturday.
The fires left the countryside looking like the barren wastes of a pock-marked planet. Here, satellite imagery taken after the Camp Pendleton fire shows an otherworldly scene more like the surface of Mars than California.