We examine the effect of lattice temperature on the probability of surface damage initiation for 355nm, 7ns laser pulses for surface temperatures below the melting point to temperatures well above the melting point of fused silica. At sufficiently high surface temperatures, damage thresholds are dramatically reduced. Our results indicate a temperature activated absorption and support the idea of a lattice temperature threshold of surface damage. From these measurements, we estimate the temperature dependent absorption coefficient for intrinsic silica.© (2007) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.