As California fire approaches, teams protect world’s tallest tree in special packaging

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THREE RIVERS, Calif., Sept. 17 (Reuters) – Fire crews have used fire-resistant coatings to wrap the bases of some giant sequoias in a desperate effort to save the towering specimens, including General Sherman, the tallest tree of the world, the The National Park Service said Friday.

The blaze, one of dozens to have broken out in several western states in a fire season that started early, forced Sequoia National Park to close earlier this week and left a thick smoke blanket in the area early Friday. Read more

Air quality was poor in the small town of Three Rivers, which is near a park entrance and halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, according to the city’s website.

The so-called KNP complex fire, formed by the amalgamation of two other forest fires, had reached more than 9,000 acres (3,640 hectares) by Thursday evening, according to the federal fire information system Inciweb.

It was burning about a mile from the park’s giant forest, home to the world’s largest tree by volume, nicknamed General Sherman, before 115 employees evacuated the park earlier this week, the service said. parks.

“Crews prepare the giant forest before the fire reaches this area, removing fuel and applying a structural wrap on some of the iconic monarch sequoias that characterize the most famous area of ​​Sequoia National Park,” said the park department said in a statement Friday morning. .

The General Sherman tree towers over more than 2,000 other giant sequoias in the park at 275 feet (83 m) and measures over 36 feet (11 m) in diameter at its base, according to the park service.

Teams of 482 firefighters, aided by planes, fight the week-long blaze, which was started by lightning and burns in difficult-to-reach steep canyons fed by dry wood and chaparral, said the Inciweb system.

Maximum wind gusts of around 40 miles per hour (65 km / h) hampered the firefighters, but an expected cooling trend should facilitate their fight, he said.

The KNP complex is one of at least 28 fires in California and 129 in several western states that have erupted since June in a fire season that traditionally begins in late summer, data shows of Inciweb.

Other measures the park service said it has taken to protect the redwoods are prescribed burns, which would reduce the amount of fuel available in case the KNP complex reaches them.

Writing and additional reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Aurora Ellis

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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