General Sherman, the world’s largest tree, is in the path of raging California wildfires, prompting a desperate effort to save it
- The KNP Complex fire in California is closing in on Sequoia National Park.
- The park is preparing by wrapping General Sherman, the world’s largest tree in volume, in fire-resistant material.
- Sequoias usually withstand fire, but wildfires have been getting more intense, a park official said.
Park officials are rushing to protect General Sherman, the world’s largest tree by volume, from oncoming California wildfires.
General Sherman is standing in the path of the KNP Complex fire, which is made up of the Colony Fire, the Paradise Fire, and the Cabin Fire, according to the National Park Service (NPS).
The tree measures 36 feet in diameter at its base and is 275 feet tall, giving it a total volume if 52,508 cubic feet, per the NPS. It is estimated to be about 2,200 years old. It’s located in the Giant Forest, a grove that’s home to more than 2,000 giant sequoias at the Sequoia Kings Canyon National Parks in California.
Park officials are now removing brush and wrapping “some of the iconic monarch sequoias” ahead of the fire’s arrival, the park said in a press release Thursday.
Sequoias are well adapted to survive fires, which help them release seeds and make clearings for young sequoias to grow.
But the climate crisis has driven hotter droughts, which has contributed to “fires that are burning hotter with taller flame lengths,” said Christy Brigham, chief of resource management and science at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, The Mercury News reported.
As a result, park crews are taking “extraordinary measures” to protect the trees from the flames, Brigham said.
The bases of the trees have been wrapped in aluminized fire-resistant material called structure wrap that can withstand intense heat for short periods of time, the Associated Press reported.
As of Wednesday, the Cabin Fire has been completely controlled, the NPS reported.
But the Colony and Paradise fires have been growing: As of Thursday, they have covered 2,013 and 7,352 acres respectively, for a combined total for the KNP Complex of over 9,300 acres with 0% containment, the NPS said.
The NPS reported at 1:40 a.m. local time Friday that the two fires were expected to reach the Giant Forest within 48 hours.
An evacuation order is also in place for part of the nearby community of Three Rivers, California.
In 2020, the Castle Fire destroyed thousands of giant sequoia trees.