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Last year, wildfire destroyed around 10% of giant sequoias. Officials fear the wildfires now burning in California will continue the destruction.
Posted on Sep 17, 2021 at 8:24 pm ET
Wild forest fires are burning in the California forests that have reached sequoias and fear that the beloved conifers, some of which are up to 1,500 years old, could be ravaged by flames again.
Flames of the Windy Fire reached late Thursday evening at least three groves of giant sequoias, officials confirmed on Friday. The extent of the damage to Long Meadow Grove, Peyrone Grove and South Peyrone Grove is still unclear, a US Forest Service official told BuzzFeed News. The Sequoia National Forest is home to the largest trees in the world, some of which have been around growing in the Sierra Nevada for more than 3,000 years, but being devastated by drought and recent forest fires.
Long Meadow Grove is home to the Trail of 100 Giants; there live at least 125 giant sequoia trees with a diameter of at least 3 meters.
The Windy fire has so far burned more than 6,800 hectares in the forest. Officials have also been keeping an eye on the KNP complex fire, which has burned more than 11,300 acres and threatens the vast forest, home to the largest tree in the world, General Sherman.
Forest officials said they were ready to remove the historic trees in the giant forest by digging fire lines, using sprinklers and clearing bushes around the only home for the largest trees in the world.
Park officials tried Thursday to take additional steps to protect the giant trees by removing some of the oldest and The largest trees were wrapped in foil at their base to protect them from the coming flames.
However, fire fighters feared the protective measures they have taken may not be enough to stop the steady pace of the fire, which more than Friday afternoon Covered 11,300 acres in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
Among the giant trees that were wrapped as a last resort was her h General Sherman, the tallest tree in the world, standing 275 feet tall and more than 36 feet in diameter at its base.
However, on Friday officials reported minimal fire growth and flames remained inside the giant trees’ house penetration. Fire officials added that they were hoping water drops and crews tasked with digging fire lines could prevent flames from entering the forest. Jon Wallace, fire chief of operations at the KNP complex, said , The primary goal of the firefighters is to protect the communities and infrastructure in the cities of Three Rivers and North Fork, which were still threatened by the fire.
The secondary goal of the crews was to protect the historic trees in the giant forest and hopefully prevent flames from damaging the sequoias.
Mandatory fires would have helped reduce the risk of fires in there, he said, but persistently dry weather increased the possibility of dry bushes and plants that the approaching Could start the fire.
“The fuels are, if you will, in really good shape, but there are many drought concerns this year decreased the resilience of these trees, ”he said.
Five crews worked near the vast forest, digging fire lines and vegetation in hopes of keeping flames out. If they can’t keep the fire out, Wallace said, the crews in the vast forest would start burnouts to cut off the fire’s path.
Fire officials assume the fire will continue uphill at its northeastern end and within the next 48 hours towards the giant forest.
Both the Windy and KNP complex fires were ignited by lightning strikes, but weather disasters are inextricably linked to man-made climate change. The planet has warmed 2.1 degrees since 1880, according to NASA, making the disasters worse. These include prolonged forest fires and heat waves that get hotter, more frequent, and longer. The costs of climate disasters are skyrocketing. To stop this vicious circle, we have to drastically reduce our dependence on climate-damaging fossil fuels.
The giant sequoias, some hundreds of years old, are facing a new existential threat as large, devastating forest fires hit the west of the country Burning USA and destroying thousands of acres at once.
Last year between 10 and 14% of all historic trees were killed in the castle fire that burned more than 174,000 acres of Sequoia National Forest and Kings Canyon National Park. The castle fire was ignited by lightning strikes in August 2020.
According to a report by the National Park Service, about 7,500 to 10,600 of the trees in their only natural habitat in the Sierra Nevada were killed in the charred devastation of the castle fire.
The true damage caused by the fire is likely to last for years, the report says. The castle fire and future fires in the area pose an unprecedented threat to the majestic sequoia trees, some of which are at least 4 feet in diameter.
Based on a BuzzFeed News research conducted in conjunction with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on thousands of documents the government didn’t want to see.