Some of California’s most popular and treasured trees are under threat as the KNP Complex wildfire spreads inside the Sequoia National Forest.
The blaze was watched inside the Giant Forest, which is home to General Sherman Tree and four guards. In an effort to protect the trees, firefighters covered them on Friday with aluminum wrap that could withstand the fire. In the grove are more than 2000 old trees.
“Once the fire burns inside the tree, it will cause mortality,” said KNP Complex Operations Section Chief Jon Wallace.
The fire was triggered by lightning on September 10, which was fueled by strong winds on Friday. It rose to 21,777 acres on Sunday morning, from 18,000 acres on Saturday.
“The fire has reached a small area of the giant forest [Friday], in the area known as the Four Guardsmen, where the trees had been carefully prepared in recent days, ”according to Saturday’s incident report from Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. “General Sherman Tree did not see a fire yesterday. Hotshot crews are assessing in the field this morning to determine if conditions are stable enough for more crews to re-engage in this area. “
The extent of the damage was still undetermined on Sunday afternoon.
The German Sherman tree is an important part of California history – having lived and observed for over a thousand years. The species is believed to live at least 2,300 years and is the largest in terms of volume although it is not considered the tallest on the planet. The German Sherman tree can grow to 275 feet tall and over 36 feet in diameter, the National Park Service said, as reported SFGATE.
On Sunday, a red flag warning was issued for additional gusts. Firefighters hold on to the hope that their flashbacks near the giant forest on Generals Highway can set vegetation on fire and become protective shields surrounding the grove.