Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

In Carpenteria on Dec. 7. (Photo: Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty)

The Thomas Fire in California has been burning for a month, destroying some 282,000 acres, or 440 square miles in two counties. About 92% of it was contained as of yesterday. In addition to some 8,300 firefighters battling the flames, a fixture of Thomas and other big fires that have engulfed the state over the last couple of months are private firefighters — trained professionals who are protecting super-expensive houses.

Quick take: These firefighting contractors are hired by insurance companies that are on the hook for homes sometimes worth $2 million and more, writes the Santa Barbara Independent's Kelsey Brugger. In certain fire-prone zip codes, some insurance companies require policyholders to buy policies covering the cost of such firefighters, reports the WSJ's Leslie Scism.

The pay for such dangerous work varies wildly. An ad on the Internet is offering private firefighters in the Santa Barbara County city of Goleta $13 to $20 an hour. That seems to be the going rate for a lot of firefighters across the west, although the city of Redding was offering $85,848 to $135,612 for a firefighter, according to an ad.

  • The private firefighting firms arrive on the scene with their own fire engines. On one day last month, 75 private firefighters riding in 41 engines were protecting houses in the Thomas Fire, the AP's Christopher Weber reported.
  • Among other tasks, they can spray the perimeter of a home with fire retardant foam. But before a fire even starts, the firms can install automatic systems that coat a house in white foam or pink retardant should a fire come within a half mile.

Go deeper: Watch some of these firefighters up close in this WSJ video.

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
1 hour ago - Sports

2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

10 months ago, the Tokyo Olympics were postponed. Now, less than six months ahead of their new start date, the dreaded word is being murmured: "canceled."

Driving the news: The Japanese government has privately concluded that the Games will have to be called off, The Times reports (subscription), citing an unnamed senior government source.

Biden's centrist words, liberal actions

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Biden talks like a soothing centrist. He promises to govern like a soothing centrist. But early moves show that he is keeping his promise to advance a liberal agenda.

Why it matters: Never before has a president done more by executive fiat in such a short period of time than Biden. And those specific actions, coupled with a push for a more progressive slate of regulators and advisers, look more like the Biden of the Democratic primary than the unity-and-restraint Biden of the general election.

3 hours ago - Technology

Review of Trump ban marks major turning point for Facebook

Photo Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook's decision to ask its new independent Oversight Board to review the company's indefinite suspension of former President Trump is likely to set a critical precedent for how the social media giant handles political speech from world leaders.

What they're saying: "I very much hope and can expect … that they will uphold our decision," Facebook's VP of global affairs Nick Clegg tells Axios.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!