Wed, 08 Dec 2021

Heat from California wildfires burned giant sequoias

Robert Besser
12 Oct 2021, 05:58 GMT+10

SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, California: Officials report that hundreds of giant sequoia trees could have been burned during intense wildfires that swept through Northern California.

In Facebook posts, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks said fires in some groves could have burned at a high enough intensity to result in the killings of sequoia trees, "possibly for significant numbers of trees."

"However, we are currently focused on prioritization and treatment of groves that are threatened and outside the current fire footprint," park officials added.

On Wednesday last week, Christy Brigham, the park's head of resource management and science, told reporters the news was "heartbreaking," adding the fires might have harmed 15 giant sequoia groves.

More than 2,000 firefighters are battling the wildfires.

On Wednesday, four people were injured after a tree fell on them, and while park officials said their injuries were serious, all were listed in stable condition at nearby hospitals.

Brigham noted the giant sequoia groves were primarily exposed by low-to medium-intensity fires, which the thick-barked trees are usually able to withstand.

But while most trees seemed to have survived, two groves with thousands of trees were reportedly hit by high-intensity fires, including two trees that fell in Giant Forest, where the famed General Sherman Tree is located.

Firefighters were seen wrapping the bases of sequoias with fire-resistant material and clearing some surrounding vegetation, while other trees were doused with water or fire-retardant gels.

On Thursday, botanist Garrett Dickman told the Los Angeles Times that the southern Windy Fire killed at least 74 large sequoias, while the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) wrote, on Facebook, that some major fires were starting to die down as this week's widespread rains assisted firefighters, except in southern California and the northern Rockies.

During the "megadrought" experienced in the western United States, wildfires have burned nearly 6 million acres of land, including more than 3,000-square miles in California.

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