This study examines 95 lightning-initiated wildfires and 1170 lightning flashes in the western United States between May and October 2017 to characterize lightning and precipitation rates and totals near the time of ignition. Eighty-nine percent of the wildfires examined were initiated by negative cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning flashes, and 66% of those fire starts were due to single stroke flashes. Average flash density at the fire locations was 1.1 fl km−2
. The fire start locations were a median distance of 5.3 km away from the maximum flash and stroke densities in the 400 km2
area surrounding the fire start location. Fire start locations were observed to have a smaller 2-min precipitation rate and 24-h total rainfall than non-fire start locations. The median 2-min rainfall rate for fire-starting (FS) flash locations was 1.7 mm h−1
, while the median for non-fire-starting (NFS) flash locations was 4.7 mm h−1
. The median total 24-h precipitation value for FS flash locations was 2.9 mm, while NFS flash locations exhibited a median of 8.6 mm. Wilcoxon–Mann–Whitney rank sum testing revealed statistically different Z-Scores/p
-values for the FS and NFS flash populations. These values were −5.578/1.21 × 10−8
and −7.176/3.58 × 10−13
for the 2-min precipitation rate and 24-h total rainfall, respectively. Additionally, 24-h and 2-min precipitation rates were statistically significantly greater for holdover versus non-holdover fire events. The median distances between the fire start location and greatest 2-min precipitation rate and greatest 24-h precipitation total were 7.4 and 10.1 km, respectively.