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Working 4 You: Fire control v. containment

SPOKANE, Wash. - You hear the word all throughout fire season to describe the status of a wildfire. But, what does it really mean when fire officials say a fire is contained?

The U.S. Forest Service describes a fire as contained when there is a fuel break line around it. So, if there's a line around 80 percent of the fire, the fire is 80 percent contained.

But, that doesn't always mean the fire is under control.

A fire is controlled when it is extinguished, and that also includes spot fires. A fire isn't under control until fire bosses are confident the flames will not break through a fire line.

Generally speaking, the higher the percentage of containment, the better. But, fire officials warn conditions can change; that's why containment numbers can be misleading.