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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The world is entering the age of extreme fire — and we're increasingly unprepared for it.

The big picture: As we've seen in Australia, California and the Amazon, fires are burning hotter, longer and more frequently around the world. Our resources to suppress them are stretched dangerously thin. And even though the wildfires are getting worse, the way we fight them hasn't changed in a century.

"There's no such thing as a fire season anymore," says Fernanda Santos, a former New York Times reporter and author of "The Fire Line." "There has to be a rethinking of the way we fight fires."

What's happening: Even with help from seasonal workers, student volunteers, inmates and more, the crews that fight wildfires are often understaffed, says Don Whittemore, former assistant chief of the Rocky Mountain fire department.

  • And as the fires intensify, there are more and more job openings to fight them. Fire-related job searches are surging in Australia, per a Hiring Lab analysis — meaning there are people who are looking to join the firefighting forces.
  • Still, firefighting is "more of a guild than a profession," says Stephen Pyne, a fire historian. It requires intensive trainings — and even apprenticeships — that soak up time and money.
  • The scarcity of fire crews is also giving rise to private firefighting teams for hire for the wealthy, reports the New York Times.

What's next: In the face of bigger fires and labor shortages, firefighters are turning to technology to help. They now use 747s and air tankers, which help give firefighters a break, "but at the end of the day all fires need to stopped on the ground," says Whittemore.

  • Experts say one new tool that would make a big difference is GPS locators for fighters (they currently use radios to communicate, but often run into dead zones while on the job). If commanders in control centers could track exactly where crew members are, they could keep them safer and get smarter about fighting fires.
  • Crews have also gotten better at mapping the fires themselves and predicting their paths. That's been helpful for crews to plan how to attack the blazes
  • And some researchers haven't given up on moonshot ideas. XPRIZE, a California company, has teamed up with the state to solicit proposals and award multimillion dollar grants to researchers who want to develop a system to detect and suppress a wildfire within five minutes, Whittemore tells Axios.

But fire equipment has hardly evolved because there isn't much that these new technologies and techniques can do in the face of extreme fire. "We won't win an arms race with fire," says Pyne.

  • There's too much money going toward fighting the fires and not enough toward educating communities on how to prepare their families and their houses for the blazes, Santos says.
  • According to Pyne, over half of all mega-fires are started by humans — and those can be prevented.

The bottom line: The stakes of complacency in firefighting and prevention can't be overstated, experts tell us. "Our combustion practices are adding up to create the fire equivalent of the ice age," Pyne says. "Australia may be the first continent to feel it at scale."

Go deeper: U.S. wildfires scorched 4.6 million acres of land in 2019

Go deeper

Updated 2 mins ago - Politics & Policy

3 killed, 2 wounded overnight in Kenosha bar shooting

Three people died and two others were hospitalized with serious injuries after a gunman entered bar in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, the police department said in a statement on Sunday.

The latest: Officers arrested a "person of interest" Sunday afternoon in connection with the 12:42 a.m. shooting and there's "no threat to the community at this time," per a later police statement.

Updated 39 mins ago - Sports

Big European soccer teams announce breakaway league

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (L) after striking the ball during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg match between Liverpool F.C. and Real Madrid at Anfield in Liverpool, England, last Wednesday. Photo: John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

12 of world soccer's biggest and richest clubs announced Sunday they've formed a breakaway European "Super League" — with clubs Manchester United, Liverpool, Barcelona Real Madrid, Juventus and A.C. Milan among those to sign up.

Why it matters: The prime ministers of the U.K. and Italy are among those to express concern at the move — which marks a massive overhaul of the sport's structure and finances, and it effectively ends the decades-old UEFA Champions League's run as the top tournament for European soccer.

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Senate Democrats settling on 25% corporate tax rate

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The universe of Democratic senators concerned about raising the corporate tax rate to 28% is broader than Sen. Joe Manchin, and the rate will likely land at 25%, parties close to the discussion tell Axios.

Why it matters: While increasing the rate from 21% to 25% would raise about $600 billion over 15 years, it would leave President Biden well short of paying for his proposed $2.25 trillion, eight-year infrastructure package.