Yosemite fire grows as crews protect iconic sequoias

Yosemite fire grows as crews protect iconic sequoias
A wildfire threatening the largest grove of giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park has more than doubled in size since Saturday afternoon

A wildfire threatening the largest grove of giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park more than doubled in size in a day, and firefighters were working Sunday to protect the iconic trees and a small mountain town.

Campers near the blaze were evacuated but the rest of the sprawling park in California remained open, though smoke that hung in the air obscured some scenic vistas.

より多い 500 mature sequoias were threatened in the Mariposa Grove but there were no reports of severe damage to any named trees, including the 3,000-year-old Grizzly Giant. Some of the massive trunks were wrapped in fire-resistant foil for protection as the blaze burned out of control.

The cause of the Washburn Fire was under investigation. It had grown to nearly 2.5 平方マイル (6.7 平方キロメートル) by Sunday morning.

Beyond the trees, the community of Wawona, which is surrounded by parkland and a campground, was under threat, with people ordered to leave their homes and campsites Friday night.

The blaze was proving difficult to contain, with firefighters throwing “every tactic imaginable” at it, including dropping fire retardant from the air, said Nancy Phillipe, a Yosemite fire information spokesperson.

Firefighters planed to use bulldozers to create fire lines protecting Wawona, 彼女は言いました. 約 600 に 700 people who were staying at the Wawona campground in tents, cabins and a historic hotel were ordered to leave.

Though firefighters were facing hot and dry conditions, they didn’t have to contend with intense winds over the weekend, said Jeffrey Barlow, senior meteorologist with the 国立気象局Hanford. Given the relatively small size of the fire and minimal winds, smoke impacts were not expected to stretch far beyond the park, he said Saturday.

The giant sequoias, native in only about 70 groves spread along the western slope of California’s シエラネバダ 範囲, were once considered impervious to flames but have become increasingly vulnerable as wildfires fueled by a buildup of undergrowth from a century of fire suppression and drought exacerbated by climate change have become more intense and destructive.

Lightning-sparked wildfires over the past two years have killed up to a fifth of the estimated 75,000 大きなセコイア, which are the biggest trees by volume.

There was no obvious natural spark for the fire that broke out Thursday next to the park’s Washburn Trail, Phillipe said. Smoke was reported by visitors walking in the grove that reopened in 2018 後 $40 million renovation that took three years.

A fierce windstorm ripped through the grove over a year ago and toppled 15 giant sequoias, along with countless other trees.

The downed trees, along with massive numbers of pines killed by bark beetles, provided ample fuel for the flames.

The park has used prescribed burns to clear brush around the sequoias, which helps protect them if flames spread farther into the grove.

その間, most evacuation orders were lifted Saturday in the Sierra foothills about 80 マイル (128 キロメートル) to the northwest of the Yosemite fire, where a fire broke out on July 4. The Electra Fire that began near Jackson was mostly contained, and only areas directly within the fire’s perimeter remained under evacuation orders, カリフォルニア州森林防火局によると.