Fire crews are battling to stop a growing California wildfire from destroying thousands of giant sequoias after harrowing photos emerged of flames burning up the trunk of one of them and the forest floor ablaze.
Flames from the KNP Complex Fire on Sunday had reached the Long Meadow Grove in Sequoia National Forest, where the Trail of 100 Giant Sequoias is a national monument.
It is not yet clear how much damage was inflicted on the grove of ancient trees — many of which reach 200 feet tall and are at least 2,000 years old.
Firefighters were working to keep the fire from driving further into another grove where the world’s largest tree — the General Sherman Tree – had been wrapped with fireproof foil blankets in a bid to protect it as the fire approached.
The National Weather Service issued a warning through Sunday, saying stronger winds and hot, dry weather could cause the fire to spread rapidly.
Sequoia National Park was evacuated last week after the two separate fires — Colony and Paradise — were ignited by lightning on Sep. 9.
More than 34 square miles of forest land has already been burned.
The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office issued new evacuation warnings late Sunday for the Wilsonia area of neighboring Kings Canyon National Park as a result of the fire.
The National Park Service said Friday that the fire had reached the western tip of the Giant Forest where a group of sequoias known as the Four Guardsmen were scorched.
The Giant Forest marked the entrance to a grove of 2,000 sequoias.
“The fire perimeter kind of wraps around the Giant Forest at this point,” fire spokesperson Rebecca Paterson said Sunday.
Crews had wrapped the base of the 275-foot tall General Sherman Tree, as well as several others in the Giant Forest, with the aluminum blankets late last week.
They also swept away debris from the forest floor.
California has been plagued by more than 7,400 wildfires this year alone that have already burned through over 3,500 square miles — about a dozen times the size of New York City.
With Post wires