Saturday, October 23, 2021

Giant California sequoias wrapped in aluminum as wildfire

Firefighters have wrapped the base of the world’s largest tree in a fire-resistant blanket as part of an effort to save a famous grove of giant old-growth sequoias from wildfires burning in California’s rugged Sierra Nevada.

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Fire spokeswoman Rebecca Patterson said the giant General Sherman Tree, some other sequoias, the Giant Forest Museum and other buildings in Sequoia National Park’s Giant Forest were wrapped to protect against the potential for intense fires.

AP. Via Southern Region Blue Incident Management Team

This photo, provided by the Southern Area Blue Incident Management Team on Thursday, September 17, 2021, shows the giant sequoia known as the General Sherman Tree, with its base wrapped in a fire-resistant blanket to protect it from incoming To be saved from the scorching heat of forest fires. In the Sequoia National Forest in California.

Aluminum wrapping can withstand intense heat for short periods. Federal officials said they have used the material for many years throughout the US West to protect sensitive structures from flames. Near Lake Tahoe, some homes that were wrapped in protective material survived recent wildfires, while others nearby were destroyed.

Fire officials said the Colony Fire, one of two burnings in Sequoia National Park and named after the area from which it began, was expected to reach the Giant Forest, a grove of 2,000 sequoias, firefighters said. officials said.

Fire spokeswoman Katy Hooper said, however, that the fire did not grow much on Thursday as a layer of smoke reduced its spread early in the morning.

Thousands of sequoias were killed, some high-rise and thousands of years old, in fires that followed wildfires in the region last year.

According to the National Park Service, the General Sherman Tree is the largest in the world by volume at 52,508 cubic feet (1,487 cubic meters). It is 275 feet (84 m) high and has a circumference of 103 feet (31 m) at ground level.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Superintendent Clay Jordan stressed the importance of protecting massive trees from high-intensity fires during a briefing for firefighters.

The 50-year history of using prescribed burns—fires aimed at removing other types of trees and vegetation that would otherwise feed wildfires—is vast by reducing the impact on the park’s sequoia trees until the flames reach the flames. The trees were expected to help them survive. .

“The strong fire history of scheduled fires in that area is cause for optimism,” Patterson said. “Hopefully, the Giant Forest will emerge from this unheard of.”

Giant sequoias are adapted for fire, which can help them thrive by releasing seeds from their cones and creating clearings that allow young sequoias to develop. But the extraordinary intensity of fires – driven by climate change – can drown trees.

This happened last year when the Castle Fire caused an estimated 7,500 to 10,600 large sequoias, according to the National Park Service.

Heat waves associated with a historic drought and climate change have made it harder to fight wildfires in the American West. Scientists say climate change has made the region hotter and drier over the past 30 years and will make the weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.

A national inter-agency fire management team commanded efforts to fight the 11.5-square-mile (30-sq-kilometer) Paradise Fire and the 3-square-mile (8-sq-kilometer) Colony fire, which were the largest of the Grove’s. was close. . Operations were carried out to burn vegetation and other fuels that fueled the flames in that area.

Fires forced evacuations of the park this week, and parts of downtown Three Rivers outside the main entrance were evacuated.

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