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They wrap the world's largest tree in a fire blanket due to the threat of a fire in California

2021-09-17T20:18:55.233Z

Intense heat from a nearby fire threatens General Sherman in Sequoia National Park's Giant Forest and other trees as tall as skyscrapers and thousands of years old.



By Noah Berger and John Antczak - The Associated Press

Firefighters have wrapped the base of the world's largest tree in a fire-resistant blanket in an attempt to save this gigantic sequoia from the wildfires encircling the Sierra Nevada in California.

The colossal tree called General Sherman in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park and others of similar size;

the Giant Forest Museum;

and other buildings in the area were engulfed to protect them from the flames, according to fire spokeswoman Rebecca Paterson.

Aluminum wrap

can withstand intense heat for short periods.

Federal officials say they have been using the material for several years throughout the western United States to protect sensitive structures from flames.

Near Lake Tahoe, some homes that were wrapped in protective material survived a recent wildfire, while others nearby were destroyed.

Tens of thousands of Caldor fire evacuees begin to return to their homes in California

Sept.

6, 202100: 30

The Colony Fire, one of two burning in Sequoia National Park, was expected

to reach the Giant Forest

, a grove of about 2,000 redwoods,

within days

, fire officials said.

However,

the fire did not grow significantly Thursday

as a layer of smoke slowed its spread in the morning, fire department spokeswoman Katy Hooper said.

This comes after a wildfire last year incinerated thousands of redwoods, some

as tall as skyscrapers and thousands of years old.

The General Sherman tree is the largest in the world by volume, at 52,508 cubic feet (1,487 cubic meters), according to the National Park Service.

It stands 275 feet (84 meters) tall and has a circumference of 103 feet (31 meters) at ground level.

[Thousands of people are forced to flee Lake Tahoe as the Caldor fire spreads in California]

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Superintendent Clay Jordan highlighted the importance of protecting huge trees from high intensity fires during a briefing.

A 50-year trajectory of prescribed burning - arson set on purpose to remove other types of trees and vegetation that would otherwise fuel the largest and most dangerous wildfires - in the parks' redwood groves was expected to help the giant trees survive, by reducing the impact if the flames reach them.

A "strong history of prescribed burnings in that area is cause for optimism,

" Paterson said, "hopefully the Giant Forest will come out of this unscathed."

Giant sequoias are adapted to fire, as fire can help them thrive by releasing seeds from their cones and creating gaps that let in the sun's rays and allow young sequoias to grow.

But the extraordinary intensity of the fires, fueled by the climate emergency, can overwhelm and overwhelm trees.

That happened last year when the Castle Fire wiped out what studies estimate were 7,500 to 10,600 redwoods, according to the National Park Service.

A historic drought and heat waves linked to the climate crisis have made wildfires more difficult to fight in the western United States.

Scientists say climate change has made the region much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will

continue to make the climate more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.

Firefighters wrap the historic General Sherman tree, estimated to be between 2,300 and 2,700 years old, in fireproof blankets in Sequoia National Park on Thursday.National Park Service via AFP - Getty Images

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 closer to the grove.

In that area, operations were carried out to preventively burn vegetation and other fuels that could fuel the flames.

The fires forced an

evacuation of the park this week

, and parts of the town of Three Rivers outside the main entrance remained evacuated.

To the south, a fire in the Tule River Indian Reservation and Giant Sequoia National Monument grew significantly overnight to more than 6 square miles (15 square kilometers), and crews had failed to contain it, according to a statement from the Forest. National Sequoia.

The Windy Fire, also started by lightning, has burned part of the Peyrone Sequoia Grove in the national monument, and other groves have been threatened.

"Due to the inaccessible terrain, a preliminary assessment of the fire's effects on the giant sequoia trees within the grove will be difficult and may take days to complete," the statement said.

The fire prompted the Tulare County Sheriff's Office to warn the communities of Ponderosa, Quaking Aspen, Johnsondale and Camp Whitsett, a Boy Scout camp, to be ready to

evacuate if necessary.

These wildfires are the latest in a long summer of fires that have scorched nearly 9,195 square kilometers (3,550 square miles) in California and destroyed hundreds of homes.

Containment crews had limited ground access to the Colony fire and the extreme slope of the terrain around the Paradise fire prevented this entirely, requiring a large amount of water to be dumped from aircraft and flame retardant liquid sprayed on both fires, managed collectively as the KNP complex.

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2021-09-17

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