A fire of growing forest, triggered by lightning and spreading through the dense, dry and wooded Sierra Nevada, reprete a danger to the sequoias sequoias of their namesake national park.
Heaven fire and colony fire, which burned together to become the complex fire KNP, swept over more of 3,000 acres of steep slopes and difficult to access terrain since the September 9 ignition in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, with 0% containment by Tuesday morning.
Fueled by dried brush and dried ponderosa pine tinder - dead trees that had previously succumbed to drought conditions and insect infestations - the flames are burning so intensely that park officials fear the world's tallest trees are in danger.
"There is a threat to the groves. It is a serious threatlaughing, "said Mark Ruggiero, Fire Information Officer at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
The redwoods, which stretch over hundreds of feet in the sky and have adapted to thrive in fire, are incredibly resilient. Giant trees have evolved to withstand heat, with bark that protects them and seed-bearing cones that depend on flames to open. Fires are generally considered healthy for forests, helping to clear the undergrowth to create space for seedlings.
But the flames burning from more and more and with increasing intensity have posed new threats to the trees that have survived for thousands of years. Last year over 10% was lost to flames .
" I cannot stress enough how mind-blowing this is for all of us, "said Christy Brigham, head of resource management and science at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, last year of the disaster. discovery. "These trees have lived for thousands of years. They have already survived dozens of forest fires.
National scientists Park Service (NPS) called the last severe drought between 2012 and 2016 temperatures a "tipping point for the giant redwoods and other mixed coniferous forests of the Sierra Nevada ".
Between 2015 and 2020, two-thirds of the area where groves of burnt giant sequoias grow, according to the NPS, while only a quarter of this area burned in the previous century. he alone has youup to 10,600 large sequoias, or 42% of the trees that were in its path.
Ruggiero noted that the KNP complex is burning with the same intensity and through a landscape similar to the castle fire, which erupted in August 2020 and burned down 175,000 acres of the park before it was finally extinguished in December.
The climate crisis, which has caused warmer and drier conditions, has also paved the way for the extreme fires that have ravaged the American West in recent years. Drought-stricken California, near 90% of the state is mired in the "extreme drought " category according to the US Drought Monitor, has already seen record fires this year with months of fire season yet to come. There are now 13 major forest fires in the state, including the'Dixie Fire and Caldor Fire, two destructive hells also burning across the Sierra Nevada.
Crews battling this fire struggled to access the steep and rugged terrain, limiting containment efforts. Smoke prevented planes from attacking the blaze from above until visibility improved, which is expected Tuesday afternoon. A management team has been deployed to the blaze, Ruggiero said, and is expected to arrive on Tuesday.
The park was also in the process of fully evacuating afterwards. the fire reached a nearby "management action point ", a pre-planned position that Ruggiero said dictated it was time to remove all non-essential employees from the fleet.
"Because of the intensity of the way fires burn nowadays, this is the new way of living with fire," he said. he said. "It 's a matter ofserious ", he added. " And it 'sa huge loss. "