EnvironmentWildlife IssueUS scrambles to save world's biggest tree from wildfires

US scrambles to save world’s biggest tree from wildfires

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Los Angeles, United States: The United States expressed optimism on Friday that it could save the world’s largest living tree from wildfires that are devouring the drylands.

The enormous sequoias are not the tallest trees — California redwoods can reach heights of more than 300 feet — but they are the greatest in terms of volume.

As California’s deadly fire season worsens because of man-made climate change, flames are getting closer to the majestic General Sherman and other enormous sequoias in the iconic national park.

The result, an imminent threat to some of the world’s largest and longest-living woods.

“We have hundreds of firefighters there giving it their all, giving extra care,” Mark Garrett, communications officer for the region’s fire department, told AFP, of the operation in Sequoia National Park.

The growing Paradise and Colony fires, which were caused by lightning a week ago and have burnt 4,600 hectares (11,400 acres) of the forest, are being fought by crews.

The fires are endangering Giant Forest, a grove of 2,000 sequoias that contains five of the world’s tallest trees, some of which are over 3,000 years old.

General Sherman, the tallest of them all, stands at 83 meters (275 ft).

General Sherman was wrapped with metal fireproof blankets on Thursday to protect its massive trunk from the flames.

Managers felt they had the upper hand by Friday, thanks to underbrush clearing and controlled burns that starved the fire of fuel.

“I think the most challenging part is the terrain here,” said Garrett. But “we haven’t seen explosive fire behavior; it really slowed down and gave us a chance to get ahead of it.”

Extremely well-prepared

A total of 600 people are involved in the battle.

“We have folks up in the Giant Forest protecting structures and preparing everything,” he told AFP. “The fact is that they’ve been prescribed-burning for the past 25 or 30 years, so it is really prepared.”

During this year’s catastrophic fire season, millions of acres of California’s woods were burnt.

According to scientists, the area is becoming increasingly vulnerable to larger and more deadly wildfires as a result of global warming fueled by unrestrained usage of fossil fuels.

The Giant Forest’s massive trees are a significant tourist magnet, attracting tourists from all over the world to marvel at their towering height and incredible girth.

Smaller flames are usually unaffected by sequoias, which have thick bark and branches that reach 100 feet above the ground.

However, they are endangered by the larger, hotter blazes that are ravaging the western United States because they rise higher up the trunks and into the canopy.

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