The three components of the fire triangle are fuel, oxygen and heat. Without all three components, a fire can neither begin nor be sustained. Removal of one or more of these elements causes fire to be extinguished.
Firefighters control fires by removing one or more of the elements of the fire triangle. Spraying water on a fire is referred to by firefighters as surface cooling. The flames evaporate the water, thereby removing energy from the fire, making it harder for the fuel to reach the point of ignition. Covering a fire with foam or dirt deprives a fire of oxygen. Removing brush from the pathway of a fire deprives it of the fuel it needs to spread and continue burning.