A wildfire that has threatened some of the world’s oldest Sequoia trees in California’s Yosemite National Park has spread five times over the weekend, sending smoke alarms into the park and hiding the famous landscape.
As of Sunday, the blaze had consumed about 1,600 acres of wood and brush from 250 acres at the southern end of the park, a day after it was first reported by visitors on the Giant Sekoas Mariposa Grove Washington Trail.
National Park Service staff immediately closed the Mariposa Grove, home to more than 500 mature Sequoia giants, and evacuated the community near Waona and the Waona Hotel and Camp on Friday.
An estimated 1,600 people were displaced during the summer tourist season, said Park Service spokeswoman Nancy Philipp. Park service closed the southern entrance to the park, which Philippe says attracts about 4 million visitors a year.
The park’s most famous attractions, including the Yosemite Valley, remain accessible from the west entrance. But smoke and soot obscured landscapes such as El Capitan and the half-glazed granite, as well as Bridalville Fall and surrounding cliffs.
Federal wildfires warned on Sunday that partial material air pollution had caused the park to become unhealthy.
The blaze, which has been dry for some time, is largely uncontrollable on Sunday, but some of the more than 3,000-year-old Yosemite celebrities have not disappeared, Philip said.
Firefighters were taking special measures to protect the bush, clearing out any potential growths on the fuel bed and setting up ground-based spraying systems to increase the amount of moisture around them.
“We are confident in our plans today,” Philippe told Reuters by telephone.
The cause of the fire is being investigated and no injuries have been reported, officials said.
But on Sunday, the crew of an “air strike” that was flying over the sky as a control tower in the crash site was about to be hit by flying tree debris. A spokesman for the fire brigade, Stanley Berkovit, told Reuters.
The world’s largest trees, covered with bulk and thick and spongy bark, have been part of the natural balance of healthy red wood forests for thousands of years. Even fire is very important for the trees to reproduce, the cones need a lot of heat to open up and release seeds.
However, experts say that drought-stricken Sekoya is now increasingly vulnerable to repeated wildfires caused by climate change.
Thousands of trees have been destroyed in six major wildfires in Sierra Nevada over the past six years, burning 85% of all major Sequoia groups between 2015 and 2021, compared to just a quarter of a century ago, according to Park. Service.