From: The Smoke Jumper by Nicholas Evans. Chpt 10 first page.
The fire on Snake Mountain which was to change so many lives so utterly started with a single shaft of lightning. It struck on a still and moonless night, high on a ridge of pale rock and paler grass, where a dead lodgepole pine, long stripped of bark and bleached by several summers, tilted like a bowsprit over fathoms of forest. In the fractured moment of the flash the tree stood frozen in a negative of neon bone against the black of the night. A trail of tiny tongues of flame licked and flickered along its stem and the ground around it shook and small rocks broke from the earth and rolled and clattered down into the forest.
There were witnesses no doubt to this sudden splintering of air and wood, but none that was human. Perhaps, below among the trees the elk jerked sideways from their feeding or an owl swerved in its flight and missed its prey or a passing wolf froze in the shadowed huckleberry and angled a yellow, unreflecting eye at the sky. But the rocks soon came to rest and silence settled once more. And the only hint of what had taken place and what was yet to come was the curl of smoke that issued but briefly from the charred cleft of the pine. …….