San Francisco Chronicle

Giant sequoia still smoldering

- By Kurtis Alexander Kurtis Alexander is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: kalexander @sfchronicl­ Twitter: @kurtisalex­ander

A giant sequoia tree in Sequoia National Park that caught fire last summer during a wildfire was recently found to be smoldering nine months later.

The burning tree, located in the Board Camp Grove in the southweste­rn part of the park, endured rain and possibly snow over the winter, though not as much as normal because of the state’s dry conditions. The grove is located in a less blustery, lowereleva­tion area of the park, which boasts California’s highest peak, Mount Whitney. But the fire’s endurance through the wet season is still remarkable.

A team of fire researcher­s discovered the sequoia giving off smoke this month, which they said was likely the remnants of the Castle Fire that was ignited by lightning in August. The Castle Fire merged with the Shotgun Fire and was managed as the SQF Complex fires. They burned 174,178 acres.

“The fact (that) areas are still smoldering and smoking from the 2020 Castle Fire demonstrat­es how dry the park is,” Leif Mathiesen, assistant fire management officer for Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, said in a statement. “With the low amount of snowfall and rain this year, there may be additional discoverie­s as spring transition­s into summer.”

Fire officials say the burning tree does not appear to be a hazard, though crews are watching it to make sure it doesn’t become a problem. While the sequoia is in a remote area with no roads or trails, smoke from it can be seen from the Ladybug Trail, which goes eastbound from the South Fork Campground near Three Rivers.

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