Oroville Mercury-Register

Wildfires burn into groves of sequoias


California wildfires have burned into at least four groves of gigantic ancient sequoias in national parks and forests, though cooler weather on Friday helped crews trying to keep the flames away from a famous cluster containing the world’s largest tree.

The fires lapped into the groves with trees that can be up to 200 feet (61 meters) tall and 2,000 years old, including Oriole Lake Grove in Sequoia National Park and Peyrone North and South groves in the neighborin­g Sequoia National Forest.

The fire also had reached the forest’s Long Meadow Grove, where then-President Bill Clinton signed a proclamati­on two decades ago establishi­ng a national monument. Fire officials haven’t yet been able to determine how much damage was done to the groves, which are in remote, hardto-reach areas.

“These groves are just as impressive and just as

ecological­ly important to the forest. They just aren’t as well-known,” Tim Borden, sequoia restoratio­n and stewardshi­p manager for the Save the Redwoods League, told the Bay Area News Group. “My heart sinks when I think about it.”

Flames were still about a mile from the famed Giant Forest, where some 2,000 massive sequoias grow on a plateau high in the mountains of the national park.

Firefighte­rs have placed special aluminum wrapping around the base of the General Sherman Tree, the

world’s largest by volume at 52,508 cubic feet, as well as some other sequoias and buildings.

The material can withstand intensive heat for short periods and has been used in national parks and forests for several years throughout the West to protect sensitive structures from flames.

Lower temperatur­es and a layer of smoke blanketing the area have been a benefit by helping suppress the flames. “It’s been slow growth,” fire informatio­n officer Katy Hooper said.

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 ?? NOAH BERGER — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? The Windy Fire burns in Sequoia National Forest on Thursday.
NOAH BERGER — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS The Windy Fire burns in Sequoia National Forest on Thursday.

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