A wet winter and spring in the Western U.S. brought predictions that the 2017 wildfire season would be mild. It was anything but. It ended up one of the worst in U.S. history in land burned.
The smoke, the flames, the aching lungs, the evacuations. They’re summertime facts of life in the U.S. West, where every wildfire season competes with memories of previous destruction.
The foliage that sprouted from previous rain and snow has gone bone-dry in intense heat, feeding flames in places that have not seen downpours in months and strangling cities with smoke.
The biggest fires came a little later than usual in some states, after Labor Day, when the fire season traditionally starts to peter out.