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California crews wrap timber with fire-retardant blankets

This photo, provided by the South Area Blue Incident Management Team on Thursday, September 17, 2021, shows the giant sequoia known as the General Sherman Tree with its base wrapped in a fire retardant blanket around it protect from the intense heat of approaching forest fires in the Sequoia National Forest in California.

Blue incident management team in the southern area via AP

California firefighters wrap aluminum fireproof blankets around the bases of several giant trees in Sequoia National Park, including the 275-foot tall General Sherman, the world’s tallest tree, to protect them from the rapidly worsening KNP complex fire.

The park was closed earlier this week after the lightning-triggered fire started burning through steep canyons. The western United States has suffered several major fires this season, including the Dixie Fire, California’s second largest fire of all time, and scientists and firefighters say climate change is extending the fire season and helping these fires burn faster and hotter than the ones in the US Decades before.

“The crews are preparing the vast forest before the fire reaches this area by removing fuel and texturing some of the iconic monarch sequoias that characterize the most famous area of ​​Sequoia National Park,” the National Park Service said in a statement . “The fire continues to grow in all directions.”

The crews also used fireproof wrapping to cover the Ash Mountain entrance, the park’s entrance sign that invites travelers into Sequoia National, and is carved from blocks of sequoia wood.

Firefighters cover a sign in Sequoia National Park, California, USA, in this image received by Reuters on September 17, 2021.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National | via Reuters

The crews are also preparing to carry out burnout operations in risk areas. Mandatory burns involve igniting ground fires that reduce the amount of fuel available near the area to protect the land from larger, less controlled flames.

The KNP complex fire had burned 11,365 acres and was zero percent contained on Friday, according to the state InciWeb incident information system. According to Inciweb, at least 28 fires have been started in California and 129 in other western states since June.

While California’s endangered giant trees are adapted to forest fires, record heat and drought threaten the Sequoia population.

Last year, the Castle Fire scorched Sequoia National Park and destroyed at least a tenth of the world’s sequoia trees, according to a draft report by National Park Service scientists.

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