In California’s Yosemite National Park, a wildfire posing a danger to some of the oldest gigantic sequoia trees grew five times over the weekend. Air quality warnings were issued across the park due to the smoke, making it difficult to see the magnificent scenery.
A day after tourists initially discovered the fire on the Washburn Trail of the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, it had charred approximately 1,600 acres (648 hectares) of forest and brush Sunday, up from 250 acres on Friday. More than 500 mature giant sequoias are found in the Mariposa Grove, which was promptly closed by National Park Service staff. On Friday, the nearby native American town of Wawona was also evacuated.
According to Park Service spokesman Nancy Phillipe, the evacuations, which took place at the height of the summer tourist season, caused the displacement of around 1,600 individuals overall. The southern gate to the park, which according to Phillipe, receives roughly 4 million people a year, has also been closed by the Park Service. Visitors may still access the park’s most well-known sights, such as Yosemite Valley, through its western gate. However, smoke and soot have obscured the vistas of famous sites like Bridalveil Fall, the surrounding cliffs, and the soaring granite monuments El Capitan and Half Dome. On Sunday, federal wildfire authorities warned that dangerous amounts of particulate matter were present over most of the park.
Photo By Faungg
No one of Yosemite’s iconic sequoias, some of which are over 3,000 years old and have names, have yet been lost in the fires sparked by arid, hot weather on Sunday, Phillipe added. Firefighters used ground-based sprinkler systems to enhance humidity levels and cleared away vegetation that would contribute to the fuel bed to safeguard the grove. Phillipe told Reuters, “We’re feeling confident about the plan we have in place today. There have been no reported injuries, according to officials, and the cause of the fire is still being investigated. The iconic sequoias of Yosemite, some of which are over 3,000 years old and have names, have all survived. In healthy redwood forests, lightning-sparked fires have coexisted for millennia with giant sequoias, enormous trees worldwide by mass, and protected by thick, spongy bark. Even the trees need fire to reproduce because their cones need a lot of heat to burst open and release seeds.
However, according to scientists, drought-stressed sequoias have become more susceptible to intense wildfire activity, which is a sign of climate change, occurring more frequently. Six large wildfires that tore across California’s Sierra Nevada range over the past six years have killed thousands of trees, destroying 85% of all giant sequoia groves between 2015 and 2021, compared to only 25% in the previous century.