Sequoias Burn and Four Are Injured in California Wildfire
(Bloomberg) -- A California wildfire that’s been raging since last month at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park appears to have killed hundreds of historic trees, including one that fell Thursday and injured four people.
The victims were flown to hospitals by helicopter and, while seriously injured, are in stable condition, park officials said in a Tweet. The fire began Sept. 10 after a lightning strike. It has burned at least 85,952 acres (34,800 hectares) and is being fought by more than 2,000 firefighters and crew members, according to Inciweb, a national fire tracker.
“There are some groves in the park that we suspect burned at high enough intensity to result in sequoia mortality, possible for significant numbers of trees (hundreds),” the National Park Service said in a Facebook post. “It is not safe right now, nor is it our current priority to fully assess the groves that burned.”
The park service won’t be able to fully assess the status of the groves until the fire is out cold and conditions allow for resource managers to safely inspect the trees, said Nathan Bogenschutz, a public information officer for the KNP Complex fire.
“We don’t know yet the extent of the fire behavior or tree mortality,” he said.
California has been stricken by another severe summer of wildfires that have destroyed thousands of structures and sent many people fleeing their homes. Drought, trees killed by bark beetles and high winds have raised fire threats throughout the most populous state, and, with the onset of fall, the intensity could increase as Santa Ana and Diablo winds build.
Giant sequoias are the largest trees in the world, with trunk circumferences as much as 100 feet (30 meters). They can live for thousands of years. The parks boast several groves of the ancient giants, including the largest tree on Earth by volume.
In addition to the sequoias destroyed, the National Park Service said some historic structures also burned, but some of the most precious trees are safe for now. Snow and rain are expected to fall across parts of eastern California this weekend and that could aid firefighters.
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