Thursday, October 28, 2021
Oct. 28, 2021

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Sequoia park’s Giant Forest unscathed by KNP wildfire

Firefighting crews’ actions help protect huge, beloved trees

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THREE RIVERS, Calif.  — The ancient massive trees of Sequoia National Park’s famed Giant Forest were unscathed Tuesday even though a wildfire has been burning near them on the western side of California’s Sierra Nevada for nearly two weeks.

“As of right now we don’t have any damage to any of our trees,” said fire information officer Mark Garrett.

The KNP Complex, two lightning-sparked fires that merged, has spread over more than 39 square miles, feeding on other types of trees that also live on the high-elevation slopes of the mountain range.

Giant Forest is home to about 2,000 sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree, which is considered the world’s largest by volume and is a must-see for visitors to the national park.

The fire recently entered the perimeter of Giant Forest near a cluster of huge trees called the Four Guardsmen but their bases had been wrapped in fire-resistant material and crews had raked and cleared vegetation that could help spread the fire, Garrett said.

Firefighting crews monitored as what was described as a “low-intensity fire” passed through and made sure it did not affect the sequoias, he said.

For decades, Giant Forest has been subjected to prescribed fires that are carefully set and controlled to burn away vegetation that could otherwise become fuel for a fire like the KNP Complex and allow it to become established.

The next-closest sequoia grove is Redwood Canyon, but it is at least 6 miles away and the fire would have to travel up and down terrain to get there, Garrett said.

“But like Giant Forest, that one has also seen prescribed burn treatments for several decades since the late ’60s so that grove is also well-equipped to transform a high-intensity fire into low-intensity fire,” he said.

To the south, another forest fire in sequoia country was showing minimal movement.

The Windy Fire in the Giant Sequoia National Monument area of Sequoia National Forest and on the Tule River Indian Reservation covered more than 42 square miles and was 5 percent contained.

“The fire behavior is not as extreme as it was a couple of days ago,” said Thanh Nguyen, a fire information officer.

On the Trail of 100 Giants, one tree known as the “natural bench” sequoia because of the shape of its base was confirmed to have sustained some burning.

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