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Lightning Strikes Spark Sleeper Fires

lightning forest

Lightning that strafed the region during Wednesday’s thunderstorms sparked a handful of small fires in Jackson Hole and forest areas in Eastern Idaho, but may have also left surprises for firefighters as well.  Bridger Teton National Forest Spokesperson Mary Cernicek says lightning strikes can ignite hold-over fires that may not flare up for several days.  She explains that when lightning moves through an area, it can strike the forest duff or the really dry, dead standing trees and smolder deep inside until the area has a good breeze move through the area it generates enough energy to flare up.  Only then, she says does it start putting up smoke so that it can be detected.  Cernicek says the forest sends patrollers out to try to look for those fires and search for any evidence of smoke or anything that reveals the lingering fire start so that they can suppress the fires as soon as possible. Cernicek says the authorities also ask those recreating on the forest to watch for smoke and report it immediately.  Meanwhile, she says they need to be sure all campfires are completely extinguished and cold to the touch before leaving an area.

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