Incredible footage of lightning striking ground at Yellowstone National Park

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1988 Yellowstone fires
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By midcentury, ecologists recognized that fighting fires often meant, paradoxically, letting them burn. Fire helps prepare fertile ground for seed germination and clears away dead undergrowth. Fire, scientists noted, might blacken the ground, but it leaves roots unscathed.

Blink and you'll miss it. But run the footage frame by frame, and you'll see what really happened.

A group of campers visiting Yellowstone National Park had an extremely close call when lightning struck approximately 30 feet away from them during a hailstorm on June 10.

Even more incredible, the campers didn't know just how close they were to the danger until they looked at the video taken by Bruce Hyland.

Hyland, 63, was capturing footage of a particularly brutal hailstorm when he heard a loud crash. Speaking to News 10-ABC, Hyland explained that he "didn't see a flash of lightning. We didn’t know how near it was. I just thought, 'Well hey, I’ve been taking a video, I wonder if I caught the thunder clap.'"

It was only when he watched the recording frame by frame that he saw the moment the lightning struck. "One frame completely saturates with light from the strike. The next frame after that the saturation is gone but you can see a little orange glow in the tree, and you can see an orange glow that goes out into the lake," Hyland said.

Particularly ominous are the blackened scars on the ground. The tree's roots were singed by the bolt of electricity.

The number of deaths by lightning continues to fall. However, it still accounted for 23 deaths in the U.S. in 2013, according to the National Weather Service. That's a steep fall from 1943 when there were 432 reported lightning fatalities.

Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter (@mikekrumboltz).

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