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A five-year record of lightning storms and forest fires

Posted date: August 10, 2015
Publication Year: 
Authors: Gisborne, H. T.
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: Monthly Weather Review. 59(4): 139-150.


According to the records compiled by the supervisors of the national forests in the northern Rocky Mountain region, lightning has been responsible for a greater number of fires, more burned area, more damage, and more expense of suppression in this territory than all other causes of forest fires combined. Smokers, campers, brush burners, incendiarists, lumbering operations, and railroads combined start annually an average of 379 fires on these 23,000,000 acres of Federal forest land, but lightning is credited with an annual average of 824 fires during the 10-year period, 1919 to 1928. In 1926, which is accepted as one of the worst seasons for lightning fires, 311,607 acres of Federal, State, and private forest land in Idaho and Montana were burned over by fires started by lightning. The damage on this area was evaluated at $3,572,000, while the Federal Government alone spent approximately $945,000 for fire suppression.


Gisborne, H. T. 1931. A five-year record of lightning storms and forest fires. Monthly Weather Review. 59(4): 139-150.
Research Topics: 
Fire; Climatology; Climate Change