Experts in fire suppression, contingency planning, and gallons and gallons of water mean the giant redwood stands in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains appear to be safe for future generations.
On September 9, the “Windy Fire,” which started with lightning, burned 25,000 acres in Peyrone Sequoia Grove and Red Hill Grove before converging on Sequoia National Park.
There, firefighters wrapped many of the famous trees, such as “General Sherman,” the largest tree on Earth by volume, in fire-resistant aluminum foil capable of withstanding 1,200 ° F.
“The lucky thing is that the Park Service has done many prescribed burns in [the park] since the 1960s, so it’s making their job a lot easier, ”said Jon Wallace, a chief firefighter during a briefing on Sunday morning. “There are also a lot of walking trails there, which have given firefighters places to work,” he added.
“The structures in the Giant Forest, the museum, all the infrastructure around the General Sherman tree, everything has sprinklers, and the firefighters are using those sprinklers practically non-stop to make sure everything stays wet. But right now, all protection efforts in the Giant Forest are going very well, ”he said.
A trip to Sequoia National Park teaches one that giant conifers actually resist fires very well, and many of those whose count of years stretches into the thousands would have endured many fires.
Their bark, like a giant fluffy blanket, can be 32 inches thick and protects them from flames. Trees really need levels of heat that only a fire can generate to release the seeds stored in their cones.
So, in practice, redwoods are literally born on fire.
However, with California’s drought conditions year after year mixed with predictions that weather events like fires will become more severe with climate change, it pays to be sure and according to California Times NewsMore than 600 firefighters were fighting the blaze at any one time, most of them working within the Grove Trail of 100 Giants.
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