September 27, 2021

KNP Complex: Sequoia National Park’s giant trees at risk as fires grow

SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — Fireplace crews moved to ramp up the battle Wednesday in opposition to two increasing forest fires threatening Sequoia National Park’s giant sequoia trees and infrastructure.

The Colony and Paradise fires, ignited by lightning strikes final week, coated about 11 sq. miles (28 sq. kilometers) in California’s steep Sierra Nevada.

WILDFIRE TRACKER: Interactive map reveals the place wildfires are burning in CA

The Colony Fireplace was a risk to Giant Forest, dwelling to greater than 2,000 sequoias, however not imminently, stated Mark Ruggiero, fireplace info officer for Sequoia and Kings Canyon nationwide parks.

The fires are among the many newest in a protracted summer time of blazes which have scorched greater than 3,500 sq. miles (9,065 sq. kilometers) in California, destroying a whole bunch of properties.

Sequoia National Park has been closed and its headquarters and resident staff have been evacuated, together with a portion of the group of Three Rivers exterior the doorway.

The park’s historic wood entrance signal relationship to 1935 was coated in fire-resistant wrapping, and hoses have been in place at the headquarters space for construction safety.

Greater than 300 firefighters have been on the strains, aided by helicopters and air tankers when smoke circumstances allowed. On Thursday, a nationwide interagency administration staff will take over the fires, being managed collectively as the KNP advanced, and much more assets are anticipated, Ruggiero stated.

A 50-year historical past of utilizing prescribed burns to take away different forms of trees and vegetation within the park’s sequoia groves was anticipated to assist the giants survive by lessening the affect if flames attain them, Ruggiero stated.

Giant sequoias, some 1000’s of years outdated, stay on the western flank of the Sierra. They’re tailored to fireside, which may help them to thrive by releasing seeds from their cones and creating clearings that permit younger sequoias to grow.

However Ruggiero famous that the extraordinary depth of fires in present local weather circumstances can overwhelm sequoias, a state of affairs that performed out when the 2020 Fortress Fireplace killed many trees within the area.

Research estimate that 7,500 to 10,600 massive sequoias have been killed by that fireplace, together with lots of different sizes, in accordance with the National Park Service.

VIDEO: CAL FIRE explains why Caldor Fireplace is shifting so quick, typically leaping a mile at a time

The Colony Fireplace additionally poses a broader hazard as a result of it’s burning at an elevation of the central Sierra the place there are 280 million pines and different forms of trees which have been killed by drought and bark beetles, Ruggiero stated.

“The Colony Fire specifically is burning in a really bad spot … where these trees are like jackstraws and it’s difficult to put fire personnel into some of these areas because of that,” he stated.

Elsewhere, two California fires which have brought on in depth destruction within the northern Sierra and southern Cascades weren’t rising.

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The state’s second-largest fireplace on report, the Dixie Fireplace, remained 75% contained after burning 1,500 sq. miles within the northern Sierra and southern Cascades area. Close to Lake Tahoe, containment of the 342-square-mile (885-square- kilometer) Caldor Fireplace elevated to 70%.

North of San Francisco, a 20-year-old Ukiah man was arrested Tuesday and jailed on suspicion of beginning the Hopkins Fireplace in Mendocino County, the California Division of Forestry and Fireplace Safety stated in an announcement. The fireplace that sparked Sunday north of Ukiah charred 257 acres (104 hectares), destroyed properties and compelled evacuations.

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