On Thursday, one of two fires in California’s Sequoia National Park approached the park’s Giant Forest, the area home to around 2,000 giant sequoias as well as the so-called General Sherman, considered the largest tree in the world. To try to prevent the “Colony fire” from destroying General Sherman and other millennial plants of the Giant Forest, the firefighters have wrapped their base with fireproof material, which should protect them from the most intense flames.
Because of the fires this week, both the park and parts of the city of Three Rivers, near its main entrance, were evacuated. In the meantime, firefighters tried to isolate the flames by various methods, for example by bulldozing a forest boundary, cutting down trees and removing all types of vegetation, in order to create a buffer zone without flammable materials. Federal authorities said the fire retardant emergency sheets were useful for protecting vegetation and various structures during other fires in the past: in addition to General Sherman and nearby trees, some buildings within the park were also protected by this method. including the Giant Forest Museum.
General Sherman is the largest tree in the world in terms of volume: according to data from Sequoia National Park, it has a volume of 1,487 cubic meters, is almost 84 meters high, and has a circumference of 31 meters at the base.
The two fires affecting the park are only the most recent this year in California, and the latest in a series of disastrous events that have been going on for twenty years and are linked to the climate crisis. In 2020, another fire – the “Castle fire” – destroyed between 7,500 and 10,600 giant sequoias in California, some as tall as skyscrapers and thousands of years old: according to a study cited by Los Angeles Times, the “Castle fire” had burned at least 10 percent of the adult giant sequoias around the world.
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