ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Scientists are using computer models to gain a better understanding of what makes wildfire go.

They're working as firefighters toil on steep mountainsides to put out more than a dozen new blazes in what has already become a vicious summer of destruction in the West.

Experts agree: Dry conditions and strong winds are driving this year's super fires.

It gets more complicated when researchers add to their formulas the devastation caused during the last 15 years by bark beetles. The tiny insects have devoured more than 40 million acres of the nation's forests.

Some research suggests fire burns hotter and more quickly in beetle-affected areas, while other research indicates that other conditions complicate how fire relates to the beetle problem.