(Yosemite National Park, California) A wildfire threatening the largest grove of giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park more than doubled in size in one day, and firefighters worked through difficult terrain Sunday to protect the iconic trees as the United States face another very active year for fires.
Posted at 7:33pm
Campers and residents near the fire were evacuated, but the rest of California’s sprawling park remained open, though thick smoke obscured the scenic view and created unhealthy air quality.
“We’ve never seen so much smoke today,” Nancy Phillipe, spokeswoman for the Yosemite Fire Information Service, said Sunday.
More than 500 adult redwoods are threatened in the famous Mariposa Grove, but no serious damage has been reported to named trees, including the 3,000-year-old Giant Grizzly Bear.
A sprinkler system installed in the grove helped keep the logs moist, and officials hoped the steady stream of water and previously mandated burns would be enough to keep the blaze at bay, Ms.me Philip.
The cause of the Washburn fire is under investigation. By Sunday morning it had covered an area of nearly 4 miles (6.7 km).2without being circumscribed.
Beyond the trees, the community of Wawona was under threat, with residents forced to leave late Friday. In addition to local residents, about 600 to 700 people who were staying at the Wawona campground in tents, cabins and a historic hotel were ordered to leave.
Found in only about 70 groves along the western slope of California’s Sierra Nevada, the giant sequoias were once considered resilient to flames but have become increasingly vulnerable as wildfires have become more intense and destructive.
Wildfires triggered by lightning have killed up to a fifth of the 75,000 tall redwood trees in the national park, which is the size of the state of Rhode Island, in the past two years.