The wildfires in California are closing in on the ancient grove of giant sequoia trees and firefighters are not only worried — they are starting to take precautions to prevent the sequoias from being destroyed.
What is known as the largest wildfire in central California has already charred 172 square miles and is not yet fully contained.
Grant Grove is a sequoia grove that is named after a tree that stands 268-feet-tall, the General Grant. The wildfires are now within five miles of Grant Grove. Firefighters are already clearing lines out around the grove and putting up sprinklers to help keep the fire out, according to Andy Isolano, who works for the Clovis Fire Department.
Mr. Isolano said the trees can survive a fire, but because of the recent stress on the trees from the drought, firefighters are trying to protect the trees from the fire getting to them.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the sequoia trees have done extremely well, even with the drought that California has had for the last several years.
The wildfires have been burning for nearly six weeks now, allegedly starting from a lightning strike.
The huge sequoia, General Grant, that stands 268-feet-tall is keeping watch over the grove, but the fires are definitely a threat. The General Grant tree was designated as the Nation’s Christmas Tree nearly a century ago.
Giant Grove is only one of the many groves in California. There are several other groves found in Sierra Nevada. According to the Lighthouse News Daily website, some of the California sequoia trees are around 3,000 years old.
“The grove, which was closed to visitors earlier this week, has been impacted by smoke, but not flames,” said fire spokesman Jim Schwarber. “The century-old trees in the grove have survived past fires and have natural defenses for situations like these.”
According to the Washington Post, some of the giant sequoias stand more than 200-feet-tall and are likely more than 1,600 years old. They rank among the largest and oldest trees on Earth.
“It’s not like you can put a blanket over it,” Isolano said about the groves. “And those old trees have been through fires before. But this is a national monument. It can’t be replaced. So we are being extra, extra careful.”
Isolano said it is very common to install sprinklers around the historic trees when wildfires break out in California. He said they manually operate the sprinklers and use them if needed to wet down the trees if the fire gets to the grove. The firefighters plan to leave the sprinklers running to try to help the trees’ natural defenses.
Hopefully, the beautiful Sequoias will be tough enough to withstand the fires.
[Image via: Shutterstock]