Lightning-Caused Fire In Tahquitz Valley 30 August 2007, San Jacinto Mountain

On 30 August 2007 I got caught in a small thunderstorm on the Willow Creek Trail. I took refuge temporarily under a tree at the junction with the connector trail to Laws Camp, to try to wait it out, when a lightning bolt hit two seconds of sound travel time away, 0.7 km or 0.4 mile.

At the time, I didn't think anything of this except to be glad it didn't hit zero seconds away. (;-)

However, as I climbed back up the Willow Creek Trail, two other hikers pointed out the smoke from this fire to me. I thought at first it was just a water vapor cloud, but it quickly became clear it was smoke since it had a bluish tint, and the smoke was being blown by the wind from a stationary source.

The following pictures were taken over the span of five minutes. It looks like the fire is dying down in the last picture.

4:01 p.m.
4:02 p.m.
4:03 p.m.
4:05 p.m.

Compare the above pictures with what I think is a water vapor cloud seen at 4:05 p.m. as well in the pictures below. In the first picture, the water vapor cloud is at upper right; the smoke from the fire is at lower left.

Go to The San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains

Copyright © 2007 by Tom Chester.
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to me at this source:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Updated 30 August 2007.