Raging wildfires in California threaten world’s oldest trees — the giant sequoias
·2 min read
Hundreds of firefighters were battling to protect several groves of giant sequoias in the United States, warning the enormous ancient trees were at risk from out-of-control blazes. A number of separate fires were converging on the California woodland that is home to the huge trees, highlighting the terrifying power of wildfires to consume everything in their path. AFP
Incident commanders said the Windy Fire, which has already charred 25,000 acres (10,000 hectares) had burned into the remote Peyrone Sequoia Grove and the Red Hill Grove. "It was running toward multiple trees and (firefighters) were able to get it out, but it did get into the crown of one of the sequoias," said Windy fire incident spokeswoman Amanda Munsey. AFP
Further north, the KNP Complex fire continued to threaten the renowned Giant Forest, home to General Sherman, the world's biggest tree by volume, and standing at 275 feet (83 metres). General Sherman, which is estimated by the National Parks Service to be 2,200 years old, was wrapped in fireproof foil blankets last week. Incident commanders said they believed they could protect the tree from the 24,000-acre blaze, which was sparked by lightning just over a week ago. AFP
The giant sequoias are the world's largest trees by volume. Their relatives, the California redwoods, can grow taller -- well over 100 metres -- but are not as wide. Both kinds of tree are adapted to fires, with thick bark that protects them from heat. In their lifetimes, which are measured in thousands of years, they typically endure lots of fires, the heat from which helps their cones to open, allowing the seeds to disperse. But longer, hotter and more aggressive fires can damage them, sometimes irreparably, and California has recently seen multiple severe fire seasons in a row. AFP
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