Washington, Jul 11 (EFE).- The huge wildfire that has been raging in California’s Yosemite National Park since last week that threatens more than 500 of its giant sequoia trees was 25 percent contained on Monday, authorities said.
“The Washburn Fire is currently 2,340 acres and is 25% contained. There are currently 545 people assigned to the fire,” Yosemite Fire and Aviation said on Facebook.
The fire has already destroyed 1,100 hectares in the south of the park.
It doubled in size over the weekend around Mariposa Grove, where some of the trees, believed to be up to 2,000 years old, stand almost 80 meters (262 feet) high.
The park’s staff are turning to portable irrigation equipment such as sprinklers to try to keep the ground damp to protect the trees.
In addition, firefighters and volunteers worked to remove fallen logs and vegetation near the redwoods and did a controlled burn to protect the grove.
The authorities closed the park’s south entrance and evacuated everyone in the area.
The park’s spokesperson, Scott Gediman, told reporters that the historic Galen Clark cabin had been wrapped in protective foil.
The structure was built by Galen Clark, the first settler at Yosemite, who convinced lawmakers to protect the Mariposa Grove. The grove and the Yosemite Valley became the Yosemite National Park in 1890.
Smoke from the Washburn Fire is expected to reach the San Francisco Bay Area, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
Gediman said that while a fire is a natural part of Yosemite’s ecosystem, a large one like the Washburn Fire is a threat to the forest.
“Fire is important, in fact it’s critical for giant sequoias for them to have the seeds come out of the cones, to regenerate the soil, provide habitat for animals… But it’s these high-intensity fires that are causing the damage,” he said. EFE