A Fire Lookout's Job
The men and women who work in fire lookout towers locate nearly 80% of wildfires in their area. The job of the Forest Service Lookout involves observing the heavens and earth for the telltale signs of a forest fire - smoke.
The Lookout all so watches clouds closely, because the majority of fires are caused by lightning. Often the morning brings nonthreatening scattered cumulus clouds. By mid-afternoon, during the heat of the day, clouds build into massive thunderheads. As storms sweep across the hills, lightning may strike a tree and wind could fan the flames into a forest fire.
When Lightning is Popping - Lookout!
"I'll rest easier knowing you are up there," stated a local rancher to a Forest Service Lookout. Wildland forest fires on both private property and public lands are reported by Lookouts.
During a recent intense lightning storm, sixteen fires were ignited in one afternoon and reported by the Warren Peak Lookout. When smoke is spotted, the Lookout determines the general location with an instrument called the Osborne Fire Finder. The Lookout then radios the Forest Service office in Sundance, Wyoming where fire fighters are immediately dispatched to the fire.
cumulus clouds can be seen over the Warren Peak Fire Tower.
Thunderheads build over the Black hills. These clouds are a source of lightning.
Stoney Point Fire
Weehindle Fire burned 1,862 acres in 2000. Turn to the west to see this view.