The Windy Fire, ignited by lightning on September 9, is burning its way through the Sequoia National Forest and killing dozens of sequoias.
Sequoias can live for thousands of years and are some of the largest and oldest trees in the forest. The towering giants that typically thrive and spread seeds during fires are being destroyed. The intense flames are engulfing the sequoias and have claimed roughly 44 so far.
Several groves have been impacted by the Windy Fire, including the Trail of 100 Giants within the Long Meadow Grove.
Firefighters were able to save General Sherman and the Four Guardsmen by wrapping foil blankets around their base to protect the sensitive roots and removing nearby debris which is fuel to the fire.
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It is still all hands on deck to try and extinguish the wildfire as it rapidly spreads through the forest. The fire has already burned more than 150 square miles in the Sequoia National Forest and as of Tuesday was 72% contained.
Firefighters, local tribe members, and expert tree fallers are working together to save the ancient trees. Helicopters are dumping water and fire retardant as crews on the ground establish containment lines and use everything they have to battle the flames.
The drought conditions and poor forest management have only made matters worse as the wildfire continues to spread.
“Firefighters have fought hard to protect these Iconic Giants that some reach 200 feet into the sky and are over 1,000 years old. The firefight continues to protect homes, the Giant Sequoias, and stop the forward progression of the fire,” posted Sequoia National Forest.
It is too early to know how many vital and iconic trees were lost, but we can only hope it is not as many as last year. Castle fire destroyed an estimated 7,500-10,000 sequoias (roughly 10%) in 2020.
Over 7,000 wildfires have ignited in California this year and have already charred 1.97 million acres. The wildfires are burning hotter and faster than they have in the past and are taking a toll on the mature trees.
A botanist with Yosemite National Park, Garrett Dickman, agrees that the fires are more intense than they used to be. He told Visalia Times Delta, “This is a fire-resistant species. If anything can take the punch, it’s giant sequoias. But this punch is way too big and it’s hitting way too hard.”
Everyone’s prayers for rain may be answered later this week. “The incident meteorologist (IMET) is expecting the moderating weather trend to persist, with temperatures continuing to drop and humidity levels rise. Measurable precipitation is anticipated Thursday night and Friday as a cold front moves into the area,” wrote U.S. Forest Service.
Rain would be a huge help since firefighters are battling two intense wildfires in the area, Windy and KNP Complex. Stay updated on the status of both fires by following Sequoia National Forest on Facebook.Whizzco