Smoke from the vast wildfires blazing out of control across the far western US has drifted eastwards right across the continent and the Atlantic Ocean and is now reaching as far as Europe.
The dramatic effects will probably soon be observed worldwide. But on the ground in the Pacific states, the people living with the smoke and flames in their own backyards are creating many much smaller human dramas.
A lot of people suspect that arsonists are the cause of a lot of the fires.
The New York Post reports one incident that could have turned deadly.
In a video posted on Facebook, an Oregon woman armed with an automatic handgun confronts a man she has discovered near her home.
“What are you doing on my property?” Kat Cast shouts as she holds her gun at the ready. “Did you light anything on fire?”
She sees the man has matches in his hand and forces him to the ground at gunpoint.
When the unidentified man tells her that he was “just passing through”, she demands to know why he’s holding the matches.
“I smoke,” he replies.
Cast asks to see his cigarettes. The man admits that he has none.
She calls the police and keeps her gun on the terrified suspected arsonist until the cops arrive and haul him away in handcuffs.
She declined to comment to the Press.
“I will not put my family in danger by exposing myself any more than what I have already,” she wrote on Facebook.
“If I need to do this again to protect my family and my neighbours, I will in a heartbeat do it again, except this time I will not be as nice as I was.”