California Wildfire May Have Killed Hundreds Of Historic Sequoias

By Lisa Kim, Forbes Staff

Topline

Hundreds of giant sequoias, the largest trees in the world, may have been killed by wildfires ripping across Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks in California that have burned around 85,000 acres since the fires began last month, the Associated Press reported.

The base of the General Sherman tree, one of the largest trees in the world by volume, wrapped with foil for protection from a raging wildfire. (Photo by Gary Kazanjian / POOL / AFP) (Photo by GARY KAZANJIAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Key Facts

Fifteen giant sequoia groves in the parks have been burned by the blaze, including one with 5,000 trees, according to Christy Brigham, chief of resource management and science at Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, the Associated Press said.

More than 2,000 firefighters are working to stop the fire and 11% of it has been contained, according to national fire tracker Inciweb.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks are home to the General Sherman Tree, one of the largest trees by volume in the world, and several groves of giant sequoias, which are known to have a maximum lifespan of 3,400 years, according to the National Parks Service.

The ongoing fire began on September 10 after a lightning storm struck, causing two fires that later merged and became the KNP Complex, according to Inciweb.

Surprising Fact

Scientists have said climate change caused by humans has worsened wildfires, and the New York Times reported carbon dioxide released when vegetation burns impact the climate. California fires produced more than 75 million metric tons of carbon dioxide between June and August, twice the amount compared to the same period last year, New York Times reported based on findings by Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service that provides information related to air pollution and health and greenhouse gases.

What We Don’t Know

How much damage KNP Complex has caused, the Associated Press reported, citing Brigham.

Key Background

According to the Associated Press, wildfires in California have ravaged more than 3,000 square miles, and more than 3,000 homes and buildings have been destroyed so far this year. It added hotter and drier weather, fire suppression, and years of droughts caused by climate change have exacerbated wildfires in the West.

Further Reading

California fires may have killed hundreds of giant sequoias (Associated Press)

California’s Wildfires Had an Invisible Impact: High Carbon Dioxide Emissions (New York Times)

Here's Why Firefighters Are Wrapping Sequoia Trees In Aluminum Blankets (NPR)


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