Why some landowners in the West are fighting fires themselves : The Indicator from Planet Money Emergency services are spread so thin in the West that some property owners are taking a D-I-Y approach to firefighting.

DIY Firefighting

DIY Firefighting

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
FAIRFIELD, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 19: A resident uses a garden hose as he extinguishes spot fires while protecting his property as the LNU Lightning Complex fire burns through the area on August 19, 2020 in Fairfield, California.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It used to be, when there was a big wildfire out West, you relied on professional firefighters to save your property. And if they couldn't, hopefully you had insurance that would help you rebuild.

But several things are changing that: the fires we're seeing now are getting so frequent and fearsome that firefighters are completely outmatched. They're spread thin, which means they can't get to every fire. There are private firefighting companies, but they're small and expensive. As for insurance? Again, it's expensive, often prohibitively so, and not everyone is eligible for coverage.

As a result, some homeowners and farmers are looking for ways to compensate, by fighting fires themselves. The market is responding, and you can get a peek at it on Craigslist.

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