Spring-like weather conditions throughout most of the western United States set the stage for mild fire activity in 1997.
Alaska was the exception where a reported 700 fires burned more than two million acres -- about 70 percept of the acres burned nationwide. Although Alaska's fire season typically extends from early May to late June, a series of mid-August storms finally ended the state's unusually long and busy fire season.
September rolled in with some fire activity in the West in the lower elevations in mostly grass and brush. On September 10, an intense lightning storm moved through the northwest igniting 63 wildland fires, of which most were located in Oregon; many of these fires were put out by the following day. Late in September, California experienced several large fires which ranged in size from 800 to 5,734 acres.
By October, fire activity in the U.S. was minimal throughout the country and attention was focused on wildland fires in Indonesia. Many surrounding countries were also blanketed with smoke causing health and safety problems for millions of Southeast Asia residents. Several federal agencies cooperated in sending military and firefighting personnel and resources to assist in suppression efforts there.
Assistance from the United States to Indonesia:
Several regions of the country battled another force of nature as floods swept through areas in California, the Midwest and the Southwest.