The coming of El Nino is supposed to be a joyous time in Indonesia. The ocean-atmosphere phenomenon dries, the Dipterocarp trees bear fruit and wildlife flourishes. But in 1997, slash and burn farming, as well as reported arson used as a weapon to claim land, spurred fires that raged out of control. The wildfires burned well into 1998, and the smoke and haze affected Brunei, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. When the fire was finally under control, the results were devastating. Nearly 20 million acres (8 million hectares) were scorched, the vast majority in Indonesia, which according to many estimates makes it the largest forest fire in recorded history. The estimated cost was nearly $5 billion.