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EXPLAINER: Why it takes months to subdue some wildfires

Wildfire managers say putting out these fires, or labeling them “controlled,” will require cold weather combined with rain or snow.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Aug. 16, 2021, file photo, a firefighter battles the Dixie Fire as it jumps Highway 395, south of Janesville in Lassen County, Calif. Critical fire weather throughout the region has spread multiple wildfires burning in Northern California. Wildfire managers are often asked why firefighters simply don't put out the flames to save their homes and the valuable forests surrounding them. It's not that simple, wildfire managers say, and the reasons are many, some of them decades in the making. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

BOISE, Idaho — At nearly every community meeting on firefighting efforts in the U.S. West, residents want to know why crews don’t simply put out the flames to save their homes and the valuable forests surrounding them. 

Wildfires managers say it’s not that simple, and the reasons are many, some of them decades in the making. 

The cumulative result has been an increase in gigantic wildfires with extreme and unpredictable behavior threatening communities that in some instances didn’t exist a few decades ago. 

Wildfire managers say putting out these fires, or labeling them “controlled,” will require cold weather combined with rain or snow.

And for many states, that's weeks away.

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