The Sun Flares were an abnormal, apocalyptic event that occurred years before the events of The Maze Runner. Massive solar flares ravaged the planet and turned the area between the two Tropics, Cancer and Capricorn, into the wastelands known as The Scorch. Billions of humans died in this catastrophic event due to fires, extreme heat, radiation, and tsunamis from rising sea levels caused by polar ice caps melting rapidly. The Sun Flares also caused severe changes in the Earth's weather, such as high temperatures years past their first occurrence, and the violent lightning storm in The Scorch Trials.
Shortly after the Sun Flares came, a deadly virus was released as population control since the planet was overcrowded and the small resources left on the planet after the Sun Flares wouldn´t last. Because the virus was released at the same time as the Flares, the virus came to be known as the Flare. The Flare was originally thought to painlessly kill the victim in the brain, but it was seen at Ground Zero to change the way that the Being thought and reacted for the worse. WICKED was founded in the hope that a cure could be created, as mentioned in The Maze Runner Files.