Lightning and Forest Fires

Here are some quick facts regarding forest fires from Natural Resources Canada:

Forest fires started by lightning:  

  • Represent 45 per cent of all fires;
  • Represent 81 per cent of the total area burned; and
  • Occur in remote locations and often in multiple clusters.

Forest fire occurrence, and area burned are highly variable:  

  • The area burned by forest fires ranges from 0.7 million to 7.6 million hectares/year;
  • The average area burned is 2.3 million hectares/year;
  • The average fire occurrence is 8000 fires a year ; and
  • The average fire suppression costs are $500 million to $1 billion annually.

Other studies have attributed lightning-related damage and disruption costs to the Canadian economy to be between $600 million and $1 billion each year (Mills et al. 2009).

For the latest update on current forest fires and what has caused them, visit the Lightning and Forest Fires, Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC):

A lightning bolt strikes a tree lined mountain top during a night storm (Kelowna, British Columbia).
Photo: © Greg Dean, 2009

Other associated links:

The National Forestry Database provides data tables of the following:

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