Electrical fire: a natural history of lightning fire
Document Type: Book Chapter
Author(s): S. J. Pyne
Editor(s): S. J. Pyne
Publication Year: 1982

Cataloging Information

  • Andropogon
  • Antarctica
  • Aristida spp.
  • atmosphere
  • biogeography
  • boreal forests
  • Canada
  • Carnegiea gigantea
  • Castanea
  • chemistry
  • coniferous forests
  • conifers
  • decay
  • diseases
  • droughts
  • dry lightning
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • electricity
  • energy
  • evolution
  • fire adaptations (animals)
  • fire adaptations (plants)
  • fire case histories
  • fire intensity
  • fire protection
  • fire regimes
  • fire resistant plants
  • fire scar analysis
  • floods
  • Florida
  • fuel properties
  • geography
  • geology
  • Georgia
  • grasses
  • grasslands
  • histories
  • human caused fires
  • ignition
  • insects
  • Komarek, E.V., Sr.
  • land management
  • landscape ecology
  • lightning
  • lightning caused fires
  • lightning effects
  • marshes
  • Michigan
  • mortality
  • mosaic
  • national forests
  • national parks
  • Nebraska
  • needles
  • New England
  • nitrogen
  • North Carolina
  • oxygen
  • peat
  • physics
  • physiology
  • Pinaceae
  • pine forests
  • pine hardwood forests
  • precipitation
  • predation
  • private lands
  • scorch
  • South Dakota
  • statistical analysis
  • Stipa spp.
  • storms
  • swamps
  • Tennessee
  • thermodynamics
  • trees
  • tropical forests
  • understory vegetation
  • US Forest Service
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • wilderness fire management
  • wildfires
  • wind
  • woody fuels
  • Yellowstone National Park
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: July 26, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 43144
Tall Timbers Record Number: 18323
TTRS Location Status: Not in file
TTRS Call Number: Not in File
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


From the text... 'Fused inorganic tubes caused by lightning strokes to the ground, called fulgurites, are abundant in many portions of the earth. Ample evidence of fossil fires, called fusain, lies buried in the coal beds of all the coal-forming periods known to geology. For more recent geologic times, evidence of ancient fires can be found in peat. Lightning and fire scars have been identified on petrified trees. The geologic record even finds collaboration from the genetic record. Komarek has observed that 'the antiquity of fire seems apparent in that the most ancient of tree families, such as the conifers, and the apparently oldest genera of grasses, such as Aristida, Stipa, Andropogon, etc., have the greatest concentration of those genes responsible for resistance and adjustment to a 'fire environment.'' Komarek has also suggested that intense lightning bombardment (and, indeed, intense fire) might act as a mutagenic agent, accelerating fire adaptability in zones of heavy lightning fire. The contemporary geography of lightning and lightning fire is equally impressive. Lightning behaves like other natural eruptions of energy. It exhibits a large number of discharges but a relatively small number of really intensive displays -- a pattern that is repeated by lightning fire and by fire behavior. Komarek has tried to demonstrate some typical meteorological conditions that can distribute lightning to various regions of the Unived States. In one study he traced the passage of a cold front from Canada to Florida from April 30 to May 16, 1965. Using data only from national forests and grasslands (except for Florida, where full records were available), he identified 47 lightning fires -- 6 in South Dakota, 5 in Tennessee, 4 in Virginia, 3 in Nebraska, 2 in Georgia, 1 each in Michigan, West Virginia, and North Carolina, and a whopping 34 in Florida.' ©1982 by Princeton University Press.

Pyne, S. J. 1982. Electrical fire: a natural history of lightning fire, in SJ Pyne ed., Fire in America: a cultural history of wildland and rural fire. Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, p. 8-19.