California wildfires could threaten the famous giant sequoia trees

As firefighters tried to save the famous old-growth sequoias grove from the wildfires that erupted in California's Sierra Nevada, they wrapped the tree's base in a blanket that would withstand fire.

California wildfires could threaten the famous giant sequoia trees

Rebecca Paterson, a fire spokesperson, stated that the protection against intense flames was provided for the General Sherman Tree, Sequoia National Park's Giant Forest, and other sequoias.

Aluminum wrapping can withstand high heat for very short periods. The material can withstand intense heat for short periods of time, according to federal officials. Some homes in Lake Tahoe were saved from a recent wildfire, while others were destroyed.

One of the two fires in Sequoia National Park was expected to reach Sequoia Giant Forest (a grove of 2,000 trees) within days. Thursday night was not clear if that had occurred. Katy Hooper, a fire spokesperson, said that the fire did not grow much as smoke from the area reduced its spread.

It occurs after a wildfire that decimated thousands of sequoias in the region last season. Some were as tall as high-rises, others thousands of years old.

According to the National Park Service, the General Sherman Tree is the largest tree in volume at 52,508 cubic yards (1,487 cubic metres). It is tall at 275 feet (84m) and its circumference is 103 feet (31m) below ground.

Clay Jordan, Superintendent of Sequoia National Parks and Kings Canyon National Parks, stressed the importance to protect the huge trees from high-intensity flames during a briefing for firefighters.

Prescribed burns, which are fires that are purposely set to remove vegetation from other trees to avoid wildfires, have been used in parks' sequoiagroves for 50 years. This was to aid the trees by reducing the potential damage if they were to be engulfed by flames.

Paterson stated that there is reason to be optimistic because of the "robust history" of prescribed fires in that area. "Hopefully, this will not be a disaster for the Giant Forest."

Giant sequoias can thrive on fire because they are well-adapted to it. This allows them to release seeds from their cones, and create clearings for young sequoias to grow. However, the extreme intensity of fires can cause trees to become overwhelmed by the effects of climate change.

According to the National Park Service, this happened last year when the Castle Fire claimed that between 7,500 and 10,600 large sequoias were killed.

Wildfires in the American West are now more difficult to combat due to a historic drought and heat wave linked to climate change. Climate change, according to scientists, has caused the region to become warmer and dryer over the past 30 years. This will make it more difficult for wildfires to be controlled and more destructive.

A national interagency fire management team took command of efforts to fight the 11.5-square-mile (30-square-kilometer) Paradise Fire and the 3-square-mile (8-square-kilometer) Colony Fire, which was closest to the grove. The area was used to extinguish vegetation or other fuels that could fuel the flames.

This week's fires forced the evacuations of the park. However, parts of Three Rivers outside of the main entrance were still evacuated on Thursday. A bulldozer was tracing a line between fire and community.

A fire in the Tule River Indian Reservation and Giant Sequoia National Monument to the south grew dramatically overnight to over 6 miles (15 kilometers) and crews couldn't contain it, according to a Sequoia National Forest statement.

Another lightning-starting event, the Windy Fire, has engulfed a portion of the Peyrone Sequoia Grove, as well as other groves.

The statement stated that "Due to inaccessible terrain a preliminary assessment on the fire's effect on giant sequoias within the grove will prove difficult and may take several days to complete."

Tulare County Sheriff's Office was notified by the fire to Johnsondale and Camp Whitsett Boy Scouts camps to be prepared to evacuate in the event of an emergency.

These wildfires are the latest in a long series of fires that have destroyed hundreds of homes in California's nearly 3,550 square miles (9,195 km) area.

Crews could only access the Colony Fire from the ground. The steep terrain surrounding the Paradise Fire made it difficult to reach the Colony Fire. This meant that they had to use aerial water and flame retardant drops to extinguish the fires. Both fires were managed together as the KNP Complex.

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