(Los Angeles) Iconic trees in Sequoia National Park remained under fire Monday despite the efforts of about 1,700 firefighters deployed to try to stop the progress of several fires in central California.
The national park is home to about 2,000 giant sequoias, which grow only in this region of the world and are considered the largest trees in existence today.
According to the firefighters, a forest fire called “Windy Fire”, started on September 9 due to lightning, and having already covered 10,000 hectares, managed to break through two groves of giant sequoia.
“We don’t know if they were destroyed, but these two orchards are completely surrounded by fire,” firefighter spokeswoman Amanda Muncie told the Los Angeles Times daily.
She explained that the fires in a nearby forest managed to reach the tops of at least one giant sequoia despite rescue efforts to stop it.
To the north, a fire dubbed “KNP” continued to threaten the “giant forest” of Sequoia Park, which is home to five of the world’s most imposing trees, but on Monday it remained on its fringes.
Firefighters have removed brush and other improvements in recent days to preserve this giant, some of which are 2,000 to 3,000 years old. They even put a protective, fire-retardant blanket over the base of their most famous one, dubbed “General Sherman.” With a height of 83 meters and a diameter of 11 meters at its base, experts consider it the largest tree in the world.
Low-intensity fires are generally not enough to damage giant sequoia, which “naturally adapts” to these disasters, with its very thick bark and first branches that can grow thirty meters in height, out of reach of flames.
Conversely, these sequoias need fires to reproduce: the heat of the flames explodes the cones that have fallen to the ground like popcorn, releasing hundreds of seeds.
These giants, which only grow in California, are not adapting to the more intense fires that have tended to erupt in recent years thanks to climate change.
Thousands of square kilometers of forest have already burned this year in California. The number and intensity of fires have increased in recent years across the western United States, with a marked lengthening of the fire season.
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