Growing California wildfire spares cluster of giant sequoias

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A firefighting helicopter drops water on hot spots burning in the KNP Complex fire, Sequoia National Park, Tulare County, California, United States, September 18, 2021. REUTERS / Fred Greaves

September 19 (Reuters) – A cluster of iconic giant sequoias have so far been spared a fire sweeping through a California national park, authorities said on Sunday.

The so-called KNP complex fire, which was ignited by lightning earlier this month, has reached the western edge of Sequoia National Park’s giant forest, home to a cluster of ancient redwoods nicknamed the Four Rangers.

But protective measures, including wrapping the bases of huge trees in fire-resistant coverings, have kept “these national treasures safe,” officials from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks wrote early Sunday in a post on Facebook.

The guards mark the entrance to the Giant Forest, a grove of some 2,000 sequoias.

General Sherman, the tallest tree in the world towering above the rest at 275 feet (83 m) and over 36 feet (11 m) in diameter at its base, had not been affected by the blaze on Friday, have said park officials. Saturday. It is about 2.5 miles (4 km) northeast of the guards.

Other measures taken by the park department to protect the redwoods include prescribed burns, which reduce the amount of fuel available in case the fire reaches them.

Redwoods depend on fire as part of their life cycle, but some massive and intense fires fueled by climate change can do more damage than in the past.

The KNP complex, now considered a single fire after two fires merged, has grown in recent days, burning some 21,777 acres (8,813 hectares) as of early Sunday, according to the federal fire information system Inciweb. It remained at 0% content.

The smoke cleared on Saturday afternoon, the park service said, allowing air operations to resume their efforts to fight the flames on “steep terrain inaccessible to firefighters.”

The blaze, one of dozens to break out in several western states in a fire season that started early, forced Sequoia National Park to close earlier this week.

Reporting by Maria Caspani; Editing by Daniel Wallis

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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