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Sequoia National Park was closed and the giant trees bearing its namesake were potentially threatened Tuesday as two wildfires engulfed steep and dangerous terrain in California’s Sierra Nevada.

Both fires were thought to be moving in the direction of the Giant Forest, which is home to more than 2,000 giant sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree, the largest tree on Earth by volume.


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Massive sequoias grow on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. The General Sherman Tree stands 275 feet (83.8 m) and is over 36 feet (11 m) in diameter at the base, According to the US National Park Service.

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“There is no imminent threat to the giant forest, but it is a potential one,” said Mark Ruggiero, fire information officer for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Ruggiero estimated that the nearest fire was about a mile (1.6 kilometers) away from the grove. He said Sequoia headquarters personnel, about 75 people, are being evacuated.

The Colony and Paradise fires, named after the places where they started, were ignited by lightning last week and are being fought collectively under the name of KNP Complex. Their combined size exceeded 4.7 square miles (12 square kilometers).

All park facilities had already been closed and wilderness trailhead permits were revoked. The summer cabins of Silver City Retreat and Cabin Cove were subject to evacuation orders. A portion of the Community of Three Rivers outside the entrance to the park was under evacuation alert.

Kings Canyon National Park, north of Sequoia, remained open.

The potential threat to the giant sequoias came just a year after a devastating complex of fires in the same area.

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Ruggiero said that part of the wildfire known as the Castle Fire destroyed 10% of the Sequoia population.

Sequoia rely on fire For processes such as freeing seeds from cones and clearing the forest that allow seedlings to grow. Records of burning in the rings of trees thousands of years old demonstrate their connection to fire.

But the changing climate has intensified wildfires and their impact on sequoias.

“Sequoia trees are a fire-friendly tree,” said Ruggiero. “Sequoias need fire to thrive, but when we have a fire like this, even a sequoia can’t stand it.”

Giant sequoias are closely related to the giant, slender redwoods that grow along the Northern California coast and have a similar relationship with fire.

FILE - In this September 12, 2015, file photo, firefighters walk near a giant sequoia at Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park, Calif.  Nearby Sequoia National Park was closed and the giant trees bearing its namesake were in potential danger on Tuesday, Sept.  14, 2021, burns as wildfire in steep and dangerous terrain in the Sierra Nevada, California.  The Colony and Paradise fires were triggered by lightning last week and were collectively being fought as the KNP Complex.  Kings Canyon National Park, north of Sequoia, remained open.

That conversation was tested last year when a major fire broke out in nearly all of Big Basin Redwoods State Park on the coast between San Francisco and Monterey Bay.

A week after the fire, an Associated Press reporter and photographer hiked the famous Redwood Trail and confirmed that most of the ancient redwoods, about 2,000 years old, had survived. were months later signs of new growth.

So far this year, California has seen more than 7,400 wildfires that have scorched more than 3,500 square miles (9,065 square kilometers).

California’s second largest fire on record, the Dixie Fire, remained 75% after burning 1,500 square miles in the northern Sierra and southern Cascades region. Near Lake Tahoe, the containment of the 342-square-mile (885-square-kilometer) Caldor fire increased to 68%.