Fire officials aim to douse blazes fast, avoid megafires

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. officials say they’ll try to stamp out wildfires as quickly as possible this year as severe drought tightens its grip across the West and sets the stage for another destructive summer of blazes. By aggressively responding to smaller fires, officials said Thursday, they hope to minimize the number of larger fires that have become more common as climate change makes the landscape warmer and dryer. A similar approach was taken last year, driven in part by the pandemic and a desire to avoid the large congregations of personnel needed to fight major fires. Nevertheless, 2020 became one of worst fire years on record.