We report the first atmospheric column measurements of methanol made by ground-based solar Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. The measurements were made through smoke plumes over South Eastern Australia during the Austral summers of 2001/2002 and 2002/2003. There is a strong correlation between the measured column amounts of methanol and simultaneous and co-located measurements of aerosol optical depth. An emission factor for methanol from Australian forest fires of 2.3 ± 0.8 grams per kilogram of dry fuel consumed is estimated by use of the correlations of methanol and carbon monoxide with aerosol optical depth and literature values for the emission factor of carbon monoxide. This agrees well with literature values for emissions measured from extra-tropical forest fires elsewhere in the world. Methanol is clearly an important volatile organic product of forest fires with an emission factor similar to formaldehyde's and approximately half that of methane.