For nearly two weeks, a fire has ravaged across the western side of California Sierra Nevada, known as the KNP Complex. Despite burning through California’s Sequoia National Park, there hasn’t been observed damage to any of the 2,000 sequoias in the park, including the largest, most well-known sequoia trees of the bunch.
The fire, which was started by lightning strikes, has conquered 39 square miles within the mountain range. According to Associated Press, nearby firefighting crews described the burn as a “low-intensity fire.”
To prevent burning among the sequoias, the trees were wrapped in fire-resistant material around their bases, and crews removed the excess vegetation. Among the trees protected were the 2,000 sequoias housed in the park and The Four Guardsmen, a group of trees that create a natural entryway on the road to the forest, as stated by KPBS. Additionally, Sequoia National Park’s most famous landmark, the General Sherman Tree, was also saved. The General Sherman Tree is the world’s largest sequoia tree by volume.
Fires aren’t unusual to the national park, as mild manmade fires are lit to destroy vegetation that would otherwise be detrimental during an impromptu blaze.
Although the consciousness of vegetation and fire-resistant material has drastically helped, it isn’t 100% effective. On the Trail of 100 Giants, firefighters have been “hand digging control lines and spraying water” to protect sequoias. Unfortunately, the Mule Peak fire lookout structure was lost to the fire, even after being wrapped in fire-resistant material.
Sequoia protection is a step in the right direction in terms of fire protection. During this year alone, 7,500 wildfires have occurred within California, states the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Within these fires, as many as 3,000 buildings and houses have been destroyed. With climate change causing droughts to be more common than ever, fires have taken millions of California trees with them. Unfortunately, with the trends underway, the West is expected to experience drier and warmer weather in years to come. Not only that, but the fires are expected to become more complex and severe as time progresses. Hopefully, with the progression of fires will come with the complexity of fire fighting technology, and sequoia protection is a hopeful sign of that.