Yosemite’s Washburn Fire threatens Mariposa Grove with giant sequoias: NPR


A helicopter drops water on the Washburn Fire which is burning in Yosemite National Park on Saturday.

Noah Berger/AP


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Yosemite's Washburn Fire threatens Mariposa Grove with giant sequoias: NPR

A helicopter drops water on the Washburn Fire which is burning in Yosemite National Park on Saturday.

Noah Berger/AP

Wildfire near Yosemite National Park forces firefighters to set in near a grove of giant sequoias which includes the famous Grizzly Giant.

The first reports of the Washburn Fire came in near the park’s Washburn Trail and Mariposa Grove of redwoods on Thursday, according to a statement from the National Park Service and California’s Interagency Management Team 13.

From Monday morning, the fire has burned 2,340 acres and is completely out of control. The cause of the fire remains unknown but is under investigation.

The Mariposa Grove is home to over 500 mature giant sequoias and is the largest sequoia grove in the park. The most well-known tree – the Grizzly Giant – stands 209 feet tall and is Yosemite’s second tallest tree, with many people stopping to take photos of it.

Yosemite's Washburn Fire threatens Mariposa Grove with giant sequoias: NPR

The Grizzly Giant Sequoia is seen under a starry sky in the Mariposa Grove in 2018.

David McNew/AFP via Getty Images


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David McNew/AFP via Getty Images

Yosemite's Washburn Fire threatens Mariposa Grove with giant sequoias: NPR

The Grizzly Giant Sequoia is seen under a starry sky in the Mariposa Grove in 2018.

David McNew/AFP via Getty Images

Redwood protection has been proactive, with a large sprinkler system put in place to help increase humidity around the trees and reduce the risk of ground fires.

In addition to the sprinkler system, materials that could fuel the fires have been removed around the trees, and previous prescribed burns may also help. Foil-based blankets that were previously wrapped around redwoods during wildfires were not laid over this grove of trees.

The Washburn Fire is burning in difficult terrain, “with continued heavy and dead fuel in and around the fire,” according to fire management officials.

Much of this material includes dead trees from a period of tree mortality between 2013 and 2015. Some of them have fallen while others are still standing, and both “create dangerous conditions for firefighters.” .

Evacuations have been ordered for the community of Wawona and the Wawona campground near the area where the fire is burning.

Although Mariposa Grove and the area where the fire is burning are closed, the rest of Yosemite remains open, with smoky conditions expected.




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