The Mariposa Grove’s huge sequoia trees were protected by sprinklers while a wildfire raged on Sunday in California’s Sierra Nevada.
By nightfall, the Yosemite flame had grown to 2,044 acres. In light breezes and hot weather it was anticipated to grow further, said to US Forest Service authorities on Sunday.
Park Superintendent Cicely Muldoon claimed Sunday that the treasured trees had not been covered with fire suppression foil as had been reported.
As an alternative, park authorities are using portable sprinklers to safeguard the area’s historic sequoias, which number in the hundreds. Both the grove and Yosemite Valley were set aside in 1864 for “public use, resort and pleasure” by President Abraham Lincoln, according to the park service. There has never before been a public-benefit mandate from the government to conserve picturesque sites.
Experts are still trying to rescue them more than 150 years later. According to a representative for the interagency fire response team, “They’re removing fuel from around the base of the trees, and they’re placing sprinklers around the base of the trees to modify humidity.”
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Some trees have been destroyed by the fire, which has been raging since Thursday and is officially known as the Washburn Fire. But thus far, no trees have been cut down.
In Mariposa, California, which is 167 miles east of San Francisco, the National Weather Service recorded temperatures in the low 90s Sunday afternoon. Early in the week, temperatures were forecast to be similar.
Officials claim that the high temperatures were aided by an abundance of fuel. “There’s a lot of wood on the ground, and that wood is going up in smoke,” said Garrett Dickman, a Yosemite National Park ecologist.
Dead trees and limbs from a 2013-15 die-off may be seen on the ground.
“This also creates substantial safety dangers to firemen,” according to the federal incident report, who may have to traverse across uneven terrain and look out for falling trees and branches.
It seems unlikely that the grove will reopen as long as the fire is still a danger.
Wawona, as well as the Wawona Road, south of Yosemite West, have been closed as a precautionary measure, park authorities have announced. The southern entrance to the park was similarly locked.. Permits were necessary for peak-hour driving in the remainder of Yosemite.
Residents of the Wawona region were ordered to leave their homes as a result of the disaster.
Cara Exten, a park visitor, was ordered to leave the park, an order that she said made good sense. The ash was showering down on them by the time they reached the Yosemite Valley, she added.
Mariposa Grove, meantime, was being built up and operated by federal personnel, who were using sprinkler systems similar to what many people have at home “but larger,” said Nichols.
As the second largest sequoia, the 209-foot Grizzly Giant, looms over the grove, crews made sure the sprinklers’ spray reached the base of the tree.
The California Tunnel Tree, the Bachelor and Three Graces, and the Fallen Monarch were all unaffected.
Another national landmark, the Mariposa Grove Cabin that Galen Clark lived in, had not yet been properly covered when the fire suppression foil came in useful. A guardian was appointed to protect the grove by Lincoln.
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