Forest fire threatens ancient sequoia trees in Yosemite National Park


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A grove of ancient sequoia trees in Yosemite National Park are in danger as the Washburn Fire grew to more than 2,300 acres the US Forest Service has said. Firefighters are working in difficult terrain to protect some of the largest and oldest redwood trees in the world.

Firefighters on scene have been using a 4-foot tall sprinkler system to tackle the fire and maintain air-moisture to prevent extensive damage to the area.

The fire, which started on 7 July, is threatening around 500 giant sequoias in the Mariposa Grove, including a famed ‘Grizzly Giant’ which is thought to be around 3,000 years old.

The Washburn Fire has already caused nearly 1,600 people to evacuate the area, including the Wawona community located inside the national park and hundreds of campers staying close to Wawona.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated. Fire officials have said that warm and dry weather conditions are making it difficult to control the flames.

Mariposa Grove and Yosemite Valley have been protected since President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation in 1864. It has a long history of prescribed burning to reduce the negative impacts of high-severity fires, the National Park Service said in a statement.

The fire was downgraded from 25% contained to 22% containted on Monday night. Stanley Bercovitz, a spokesman with the US Forest Service, said: “We don’t want to say everything’s fine and we’re getting a good handle on this fire and it’s downhill from here on out, because all it’s going to take is one hour of wind.”

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