SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Some 14,000 firefighters are battling 18 major blazes burning hundreds of square miles throughout the state with aircraft, assorted vehicles and picks and shovels.

They take aim at the biggest wildfires in two ways — water and retardant — and in much of the same way the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has for decades: letting the fire come to them.

In those situations, the firefighters retreat to a ridge, wide road or stream where they use bulldozers to cut a “fire line.”

Experts say whatever approach Cal Fire takes, California firefighters are often more aggressive in trying to extinguish wildfires than other less-populated states. That”s because California wildfires are increasingly threatening sprawling urban areas.

Drought, warmer weather and other factors have combined to start wildfire season sooner.

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