California wildfire scorches Long Meadow Grove of sequoia trees

Wildfires raging through Sequoia National Park in California have scorched the famed Bench Tree and are threatening the ancient groves as firefighters race to contain the encroaching blazes. 

Incident commanders said the Windy Fire, which has already charred 25,191 acres and is only 4% contained, burned into Long Meadow Grove along the Trail of 100 Giants. The area is home to 1,500-year-old sequoias.

Thanh Nguyen, a spokesman for the fire command, told the Los Angeles Times that a portion of the Bench Tree – which gets its name because of the shape of its base – was confirmed to have burned Sunday. 

The extent of any further damage has yet to be assessed, officials said.

Firefighters walk past sequoia along the famed Trail of 100 Giants in California's Sequoia National Park Fire, which has already charred 25,191 acres and is only 4% contained

Firefighters walk past sequoia along the famed Trail of 100 Giants in California’s Sequoia National Park where the Windy Fire  has charred 25,191 acres and is only 4% contained

Incident commanders said the Windy Fire, which has already charred 25,191 acres and is only 4% contained, burned into Long Meadow Grove along the Trail of 100 Giants Sunday night

Incident commanders said the Windy Fire, which has already charred 25,191 acres and is only 4% contained, burned into Long Meadow Grove along the Trail of 100 Giants Sunday night

Wildfires that spread to the tops of trees – especially very tall trees – can move quickly through the forest, as the tops of the trees explode, showering embers over a large area below them.

‘It was running toward multiple trees and firefighters were able to get it out, but it did get into the crown of one of the sequoias,’ Windy fire incident spokeswoman Amanda Munsey told the Los Angeles Times.  

Images captured on Tuesday showcased the glowing blaze at it engulfed Long Meadow Grove, continuing to swirl around tree trunks and branches. 

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees near The Trail of 100 Giants overnight in Sequoia National Park on September 21, 2021

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees near The Trail of 100 Giants overnight in Sequoia National Park on September 21, 2021

As climate change and years of drought push wildfires to become bigger and hotter, many of the worlds biggest and oldest trees, the ancient sequoias, have been killed

As climate change and years of drought push wildfires to become bigger and hotter, many of the worlds biggest and oldest trees, the ancient sequoias, have been killed

The giant trees are among the worlds biggest and live to more than 3,000 years, surviving hundreds of wildfires throughout their lifespans

The giant trees are among the worlds biggest and live to more than 3,000 years, surviving hundreds of wildfires throughout their lifespans

Flames engulfed the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees near The Trail of 100 Giants overnight

Flames engulfed the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees near The Trail of 100 Giants overnight

While Sequoias have adapted to wildfires, the colossal trees are struggling to withstand the intensity of recent fires

While Sequoias have adapted to wildfires, the colossal trees are struggling to withstand the intensity of recent fires

Several wildfires surrounding Sequoia National Park are threatening groves of giant sequoias, as firefighters scurry to contain the encroaching blazes

Several wildfires surrounding Sequoia National Park are threatening groves of giant sequoias, as firefighters scurry to contain the encroaching blazes

Farther north, the KNP Complex fire continued to threaten the renowned Giant Forest, home to General Sherman standing at 275 feet.

General Sherman, which is estimated by the National Parks Service to be 2,200 years old, was wrapped in fireproof foil blankets last week.

Although the tree is located 36 miles from the Windy fire, it sits 7.9 miles from the Paradise fire and 9.5 miles from the Colony fire. 

Incident commanders said they believed they could protect the tree from the 24,000-acre blaze, which was sparked by lightning just over a week ago. 

A big increase in personnel put more than 1,400 firefighters on the lines of the KNP Complex fire, information officer Ana Beatriz Cholo said.

The weather was expected to clear out smoke and allow aircraft to begin operations against the flames.

‘The fire’s active, but we’ve got a good number of staff out there,’ information officer Kate Kramer said.

General Sherman, which is estimated by the National Parks Service to be 2,200 years old, was wrapped in fireproof foil blankets last week

General Sherman, which is estimated by the National Parks Service to be 2,200 years old, was wrapped in fireproof foil blankets last week

Firefighters posing next to The General Sherman Tree after wrapping it in fire-resistant structural wrap amid the KNP Complex Fire within the Sequoia National Forest near Three Rivers, California on September 17, 2021

Firefighters posing next to The General Sherman Tree after wrapping it in fire-resistant structural wrap amid the KNP Complex Fire within the Sequoia National Forest near Three Rivers, California on September 17, 2021

As climate change and years of drought push wildfires to become bigger and hotter, many of the worlds biggest and oldest trees, the ancient sequoias, have been killed

As climate change and years of drought push wildfires to become bigger and hotter, many of the worlds biggest and oldest trees, the ancient sequoias, have been killed

Wildfires that spread to the tops of trees -- especially very tall trees -- can move quickly through the forest

Wildfires that spread to the tops of trees — especially very tall trees — can move quickly through the forest

While sequoias have adapted to wildfires, the colossal trees are struggling to withstand the intensity of recent fires.

Heat from normal wildfires in the past was considered beneficial for sequoia reproduction, but increasing fire intensity now can very likely kill them.

In 2020, the Castle fire destroyed as much as 14 percent of all the worlds giant sequoias. 

Images captured on Tuesday showcased the glowing blaze at it engulfed around long Meadow Grove, continuing to swirl around tree trunks and branches

Images captured on Tuesday showcased the glowing blaze at it engulfed around long Meadow Grove, continuing to swirl around tree trunks and branches

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees near The Trail of 100 Giants overnight in Sequoia National Park on September 21, 2021

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees near The Trail of 100 Giants overnight in Sequoia National Park on September 21, 2021

The giant trees are among the worlds biggest and live to more than 3,000 years, surviving hundreds of wildfires throughout their lifespans

The giant trees are among the worlds biggest and live to more than 3,000 years, surviving hundreds of wildfires throughout their lifespans

The heat of normal wildfire of the past helped the trees reproduce but increasing fire intensity can now kill them

The heat of normal wildfire of the past helped the trees reproduce but increasing fire intensity can now kill them

The Windy Fire engulfed the Long Meadow Grove along the Trail of 100 Giants Sunday night

The Windy Fire engulfed the Long Meadow Grove along the Trail of 100 Giants Sunday night

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