In August, Brazil's rainforest was burning the most since 2010. At one point, 31,000 fires were burning ...
... which created a 1.2 million-square-mile layer of smoke.
After facing intense scrutiny from the international community, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro agreed to send in 44,000 troops to fight the fires at the end of August.
By September, the number of fires burning had fallen to 20,000 — a six year low. It's unusual, because September is usually when fires increase. For comparison, 24,500 fires burned in September 2018.
And it's likely that the decrease is a mix of Brazil's military fighting the fires and more rain, Maria Silva Dias, a professor and forest fire expert at the University of Sao Paulo, told Reuters.
Fires, many of which were started on purpose to clear land for farming, have burned indiscriminately — in parks, ranches, government land, and indigenous land. At the end of August, Bolsonaro also issued a 60-day ban on starting fires.
Here, a firefighter from the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) attempts to control the direction of the fire on indigenous land in September.
Another member of IBAMA fire brigades extinguishes the smoldering remains of a fire here. Before the fires broke out this year, Bolsonaro spoke about shutting down the organization, because he wanted forested regions to be developed. The government still sent them in, though, and barred members from speaking to the media.
Some of the firefighters wield eight-foot poles with mats attached to the end, and slap them down on the fires. Or they shoot water from hoses attached to water tanks, like a "child's Super Soaker," ABC News reported.
They use all of the tools they have on hand. Water bags are refilled from nearby streams ...
... dirt is shoveled on to fires to suffocate them ...
... and from the sky, fighter jets dump water and fire retardant onto fires. The Brazilian government also hired a Boeing 747-400, which is capable of dropping 19,000 gallons per trip, to assist.
But for the most part, firefighters' tools are rudimentary. And the Amazon is so large that firefighters can't stop many of the fires.
In Bolivia, at least 4.2 million acres of forest have burned. The government sent in 5,000 troops to battle the fires, and said it has spent $20 million on the fight.
The fires became so bad Bolivian President Evo Morales put his re-election campaign on hold to fight the fires. Despite his firsthand efforts to help, environmentalists have criticized him for passing laws that encourage slash and burning to make room for farmland.
Some volunteer firefighters in Bolivia worked by night to keep cool, and to be able to see the fires more clearly.
Here, it's police and military working as a group to stop a fire, but farmers, accountants, and construction workers have also made up the crews fighting Bolivia's fires. Often, they're doing it with donated gear, including fire hoses that are full of holes.
It's dangerous work. A volunteer named Andres Manaca was nearly trapped by fires twice over an eight-day period he spent fighting them. At one point he was in a group of volunteers who had to flee as the fire came for them. “It was violent, like lightning,” he told The Guardian.
And it's not always a rewarding job, in the traditional sense. One firefighter chief told ABC News he was aware fighting the flames was futile, but if they could save a few things, it was worth it.
Not everyone thinks firefighters have made a difference. Retired colonel Angelo Robelo, who has fought poachers and monitored fires in the Amazon for 30 years, told ABC News only mother nature could make a difference.
But it appears they have made an impact. Bolivia's armed forces commander said there was no plan to withdraw the troops. So for now, the firefighters will continue on.
And soldiers, like this one, will continue to monitor the progress of one of the worst years for Amazon Rainforest fires in recent history.