California’s Sequoia National Park has been closed and the gigantic trees that give it its name are under potential threat from two fires ravaging the Sierra Nevada.
The advance of both fires is projected towards the Forest of Giants, which harvests more than two thousand giant sequoias, including the so-called ‘General Sherman Tree’, the largest on the planet in terms of volume.
The imposing redwoods grew on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada. The ‘General Sherman’ is 83.8 meters high and has a diameter of 11 meters at the base, according to the US Natural Park Service.
There is no imminent threat to the Forest of Giants, but there is potential” for that, said Mark Ruggiero, agent for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks for fireworks information.
Ruggiero estimated that the nearest flames were about a mile from the grove.
The 75 people working in the park’s administrative center were evacuated and all service structures closed, he said.
The fires called Colony and Paradise, which take the names of the locations where they started, were caused by lightning last week. Their combined size reaches 12 square kilometers.
The potential threat to the giant sequoias comes a year after a disastrous set of fires in the same region.
Part of this set of fires destroyed 10% of the redwood population, Ruggiero advanced.
Redwoods rely on fire for processes such as releasing seeds from cones and clearing the forest to allow them to grow.
The record of burns in tree rings, thousands of years old, shows their relationship with fire.
But climate change is intensifying forest fires and their impact on redwoods.
Redwoods are trees that adapt to fire”, Ruggiero said. “It’s important to have fires for the redwoods to grow, but when we have such intense fires even the redwoods can’t handle them”.
California already has more than 7,400 wildfires this year, which have burned more than 9,065 square kilometers.