Written by By Sandrine Durocher, CNN Paris
On a scorching hot day in November 1997, a fire started in a forest in a remote area of the Philippines. By the end of the year, it had spread from there to encompass nearly the entire island.
The cause? The “world’s most formidable fire,” as one local official put it, according to a 1997 report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper.
The gigantic fire was started by a trio of warm, dry winds that swept across Bicol Province — a province on the southern tip of Luzon — on November 30, 1997. According to official authorities at the time, the winds carried dried leaves, seeds and scrap wood from the ancient forests about eight kilometers into the nearby town of Danglanan.
The area was reportedly under a thin layer of heavy smoke from several fires. It appears to have been in a dry state in the area at the time, though still considered wet.
A helicopter was sent to the fire to drop water on the fire. Fire fighters were required to patrol the perimeter to prevent it from spreading further. The fire was eventually managed and extinguished — but it would take almost four decades for the island to ever see the fire again.