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As California fire nears, crews protect world’s largest tree in special wrap By Reuters


© Reuters. In this image taken by Reuters September 17th, 2021, firefighters cover a sign in Sequoia National Park. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park Service/Handout via REUTERS


By Fred Greaves

THREE RIVERS, Calif. (Reuters) – Fire crews have resorted to wrapping the bases of some giant sequoias in fire-resistant coverings in a desperate effort to save the towering specimens, including the General Sherman, the world’s largest tree, the National Park Service said on Friday.

This blaze was one of many that erupted across western states during a wildfire season that started early. It forced Sequoia National Park to close earlier in the week and created a thick layer of smoke early Friday.

The town website stated that the air quality was low in Three Rivers near the park’s entrance. Three Rivers is approximately halfway between San Francisco (Los Angeles) and Los Angeles.

According to federal Inciweb, the KNP Complex fire was formed from the merging of two wildfires. It had reached more than 9000 acres (3640 ha) late Thursday.

According to the park service, it was located about 1 mile (1.6 km away) from Giant Forest which houses General Sherman, the biggest tree in the world by volume. It burned until 115 workers evacuated the park earlier in the week.

In a Friday statement, the park service stated that “Crews have been preparing Sequoia National Park’s Giant Forest for the possibility of a fire reaching that area.”

According to the park service, the General Sherman tree is taller than the other giant sequoias within the park and measures 275ft (83m) wide at the base.

The Inciweb system stated that 482 firefighters are helping to battle the blaze. It was ignited by lightning, and the fire is still burning in steep canyons. They have been fueled with dry timber and chaparral.

It said that firefighters have struggled to fight wind gusts up to 40 miles an hour (65 km/h), but that a cooling trend was expected.

According to Inciweb data, the KNP Complex is among at least 28 California fires and there are 129 in several Western states. These fires have been raging since June during a traditional fire season which begins late in summer.

The park service also stated that it took other steps to safeguard the sequoias. These include prescribed burns which will reduce fuel availability in case the KNP complex is reached.

(Writing and addtional reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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