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Giant California sequoias wrapped in aluminum as fire nears

Firefighting crews are using a novel technique to defend California's iconic giant sequoias from a lightning-caused wildfire in the Sierra Nevada

9/17/2021 7:58:00 PM

Firefighters have wrapped the base of the world’s largest tree in a fire-resistant blanket as part of an effort to save a famous grove of gigantic old-growth sequoias from wildfires burning in California’s rugged Sierra Nevada.

Firefighting crews are using a novel technique to defend California's iconic giant sequoias from a lightning-caused wildfire in the Sierra Nevada

The Associated PressThis photo provided by the Southern Area Blue Incident Management Team on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2021, shows the giant sequoia known as the General Sherman Tree with its base wrapped in a fire-resistant blanket to protect it from the intense heat of approaching wildfires at Sequoia National Forest in California. (Southern Area Blue Incident Management Team via AP)

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THREE RIVERS, Calif. -- Firefighters have wrapped the base of the world’s largest tree in a fire-resistant blanket as part of an effort to save a famous grove of gigantic old-growth sequoias from wildfires burning in California’s rugged Sierra Nevada.

The colossal General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park’s Giant Forest, some other sequoias, the Giant Forest Museum and other buildings were wrapped for protection against the possibility of intense flames, fire spokeswoman Rebecca Paterson said.The aluminum wrapping can withstand intensive heat for short periods. Federal officials said they have used the material for several years throughout the U.S. West 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.

The Colony Fire, one of two burning in Sequoia National Park and named for the area where it started, was expected to reach the Giant Forest, a grove of 2,000 sequoias, within days, fire officials said.However, the fire didn’t grow significantly Thursday as a layer of smoke reduced its spread in the morning, fire spokeswoman Katy Hooper said.

The blaze erupted after a wildfire in the region last year killed thousands of sequoias, some as tall as high-rises 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 towers 275 feet (84 meters) high and has a circumference of 103 feet (31 meters) at ground level.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks Superintendent Clay Jordan stressed the importance of protecting the massive trees from high-intensity fire during a briefing for firefighters.A 50-year history of using prescribed burns — fires set on purpose to remove other types of trees and vegetation that would otherwise feed wildfires — in the parks’ sequoia groves was expected to help the giant trees survive by lessening the impact if flames reach them.

A “robust fire history of prescribed fire in that area is reason for optimism,” Paterson said. “Hopefully, the Giant Forest will emerge from this unscathed.”Giant sequoias are adapted to fire, which can help them thrive by releasing seeds from their cones and creating clearings that allow young sequoias to grow. But the extraordinary intensity of fires — fueled by climate change — can overwhelm the trees.

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That happened last year when the Castle Fire killed what studies estimate were 7,500 to 10,600 large sequoias, according to the National Park Service.A historic drought and heat waves tied to climate change have made wildfires harder to fight in the American West. Scientists say climate change has made the region much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.

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 closest to the grove. Operations to burn away vegetation and other fuel that could feed the flames were done in that area.

The fires forced the 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 on the Tule River Indian Reservation and in Giant Sequoia National Monument grew significantly overnight to more than 6 square miles (15 square kilometers), and crews had no containment of it, a Sequoia National Forest statement said.

The Windy Fire, also started by lightning, has burned into part of the Peyrone Sequoia Grove in the national monument, and other groves were threatened.“Due to inaccessible terrain, a preliminary assessment of the fire’s effects on giant sequoia trees within the grove will be difficult and may take days to complete,” the statement said.

The fire led the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office to warn the communities of Ponderosa, Quaking Aspen, Johnsondale and Camp Whitsett, a Boy Scouts camp, to be ready to evacuate if necessary.The wildfires are among the latest in a long summer of blazes that have scorched nearly 3,550 square miles (9,195 square kilometers) in California, destroying hundreds of homes.

Crews had limited ground access to the Colony Fire and the extreme steepness of the terrain around the Paradise Fire prevented it completely, requiring extensive aerial water and flame-retardant drops on both fires. The two fires were being managed collectively as the KNP Complex.

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OMG!!! 😪😪😪 I think they need to go a little higher! Very worried about those trees! 🙏🏼🤗🌲 Great work. Gavin Newsom has lied about the amount of forestry to protect our national landmarks and townships. He instead, has squandered the money to try to buy off voters for the recall election with unemployment subsidies!

I'm crying! P97j7m0kp MBuhari OfficialAPCNg is there any tree important to us here LukeCleary So sad, they hopefully won't need it, but maybe more wrap! P b

Sequoia National Park Forest wraps trees in foil as wildfires approachSequoia National Park Forest officials have wrapped giant sequoia tree trunks in aluminum foil insulation due to two uncontained California wildfires that are projected to spread toward the park.Why it matters: Giant sequoias are unaffected by most wildfires, but among the trees currently under threat is The General Sherman Tree, which is approximately 2,300 to 2,700 years old. Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for freeTravel Update: Sequ

Sequoia National Park's Giant Trees At Risk As Wildfires GrowFire crews moved to ramp up the battle against two expanding fires threatening Sequoia National Park’s giant sequoia trees and infrastructure. 😳😧 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼 Scary.

Giant sequoias wrapped in foil to protect from US forest firesThe world's biggest trees were being wrapped in fire-proof blankets Thursday in an effort to protect them from huge blazes tearing through the drought-stricken western United States. If you want to know what's happening and why read Revelation at the end of the new testament in the Bible.

Fire crews struggling to save California giant sequoiasCrews struggle to save California's iconic giant sequoias from a lightning-caused wildfire that's heading toward old-growth forests in the Sierra Nevada. Firefighters have wrapped the base of the world’s largest tree in fire-resistant aluminum wrapping. Sequoias evolved to withstand forest fires. 🤷🏻‍♂️ Serious question: wouldn't that cook the base of the tree like a baked potato?

Giant Forest trees prepped for flames in Sequoia National Park as KNP Complex fire closes in'It's a very significant area for many, many people, so a lot of special effort is going into protecting this grove.'

California wildfires threaten famous giant sequoia treesFirefighters in California have wrapped the base of the world's largest tree in a fire-resistant blanket as they tried to save a famous grove of gigantic old-growth sequoias from wildfires burning in the Sierra Nevada mountains. sequoias need the fire for growth it’s okay. Why there are so many wildfires in US? I remember there was a widefire in late 2019.And I read the news on Chinese tencent news app.most of the comments jeered and screamed abuse. the same to the wildfire in Australian then. But why there are so many wildfires in US? Sad