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Sequoia National Park threatened by California wildfires

While firefighters “aggressively attack” fires to help put them out, the fires have the potential to affect the park’s infrastructure and resources, the park’s website said. Giant sequoias – which can reach heights of 300 feet – have already been hit hard by fires in the state in recent years, “says the National Park Service.
The redwoods that were killed in last year’s castle fire could be between hundreds and 3,000 years old, the service added.

In this Sunday, September 12 photo released by the KNP Complex Fire Incident Command, plumes of smoke rise from the Paradise Fire in Sequoia National Park, California.

Command / AP in case of fire of the KNP complex

The park is threatened by the KNP complex fire, which was triggered by lightning last week and includes the Colony and Paradise fires. It burned nearly 6,000 acres in the park’s footprint, according to the National Wildfire Coordination Group. Information on containment of the fire was not available.

The Paradise Fire blaze spun out of control Monday night, crossing the Generals Highway and the Kaweah River Center Fork, prompting the evacuation of park workers.

All facilities and services in Sequoia National Park, including campgrounds, visitor centers and park stores, are closed until the threat of fire is reduced, the park said.

“Due to forest fire activity in the area, we are closing all trails that enter Sequoia National Park to hiking and day hiking. All existing permit reservation holders will receive a full refund. “, added an alert on the park’s website. “As of September 12, backpackers will not be able to obtain an overnight wilderness permit from the Mineral King Valley area, Lodgepole or Giant Forest, or Ash Mountain (foothills).”

Other wilderness areas are open, the park said, but are “heavily affected” by smoke and unsafe air quality.

Sequoias only naturally grow on the western slopes of the southern Sierra Nevada mountain range. Some 7,500 to 10,600 mature giant sequoias were destroyed in last year’s fire, according to a National Park Service report.

This represents about 10-14% of the world’s mature redwood population.

While trees rely on fire to open their cones and release seeds to reproduce, these fires have historically burned naturally at lower temperatures, killing small trees and thinning the forest. But fire suppression efforts allowed the forest to become denser, which, combined with a drought lasting several years, allowed many of these trees to disappear. This created more fuels that burned hotter and more intensely than in previous fires.

“The unprecedented number of giant sequoias destroyed by fire last year serves as a call to action,” Clay Jordan, director of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, said in a July statement. “We know that climate change is increasing the length and severity of our fire seasons due to warmer temperatures and drought. To tackle these emerging threats to our forests, we must unite the agencies. Actions that are good for protecting our forests are also good. to protect our communities.