Disasters & Accidents

Thousands of firefighters deployed to protect California sequoias

San Francisco, Sep 24 (EFE).- More than 3,000 firefighters were working Friday to contain a pair of blazes in California raging near ancient sequoia trees.

Deployed to fight the KNP complex of fires and the Windy fire in the southern Sierra Nevada mountain range, those emergency personnel have thus far prevented the flames from reaching the United States’ most iconic trees.

One of their protective measures has been to use fire-resistant aluminum sheeting to cover the bases of some of the most popular sequoias of the Giant Forest, a section of California’s Sequoia National Park where five of the world’s 10 largest trees by volume are located.

One of those aluminum-blanketed trees is a sequoia known as General Sherman, which is 83.3 meters (273 feet) tall and 11 meters in diameter and is regarded as the largest single-stem tree on Earth by volume. Estimated to date back more than 2,300 years, it attracts visitors from all over the world.

Of the two fires, the KNP Complex is burning in closer proximity to those trees since it is raging within the Sequoia National Park. The Windy fire, by contrast is burning an area located about 100 kilometers (62 miles) further south.

The KNP Complex has burned 14,900 hectares (57.5 square miles) to date and no significant strides are being made to contain it, according to the latest figures from the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

The Windy fire, meanwhile, has affected 20,000 hectares and is considered 6 percent contained.

Both were caused by lightning strikes in early September.

Besides those two fires, several other blazes are currently active in California, although improved weather conditions have made the situation more manageable than in July and August and allowed firefighters to make significant containment strides.

Among the largest wildfires, the Dixie blaze that has been active in Lassen Volcanic National Park since mid-July and was the second-biggest ever registered in California – having burned 389,000 hectares – is now 94 percent contained.

And the Caldor fire, which for several weeks threatened the popular tourist destination of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada, is now 76 percent contained after having burned 89,400 hectares. EFE


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