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Can sequoia trees survive wildfires?

Posted: 6:09 PM, Sep 21, 2021
Updated: 2021-09-21 21:13:16-04
APTOPIX Western Wildfires

SEQUOIA NATIONAL FOREST, Calif — The Windy Fire, which is north of the Tulare and Kern County line has burned more than 27,000 acres. The fire started on September 9th due to lighting and is only 5% contained.

In addition, the KNP Complex Fire, which was also started by lightning, has burned about 25,000 acres and sits at 0% containment.

So with the Windy KBP Complex fires burning in the Sequoia National Forest and Park, 23ABC took an in-depth look at the impact of those fires in those areas.

In some good news, the Associated Press reported crews have successfully made sure that the 2,000 sequoia trees in the forest, including the world's largest sequoia, the General Sherman, are safe. Fire crews covered the trees with protective aluminum foil and cleared fuel and brush around the trees to prevent them from burning.

Western Wildfires
This photo provided by the Southern Area Blue Incident Management Team on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2021, shows the giant sequoia known as the General Sherman Tree with its base wrapped in a fire-resistant blanket to protect it from the intense heat of approaching wildfires at Sequoia National Forest in California. (Southern Area Blue Incident Management Team via AP)

These giant trees have actually adapted to periodic fires over the past couple few hundred years. The bark of the tree can be up to 18-inches thick and the fibers help not only resist burning but also insulate the tree from the heat of the fire.

Fires also help prepare the soil for the sequoia seeds to germinate and burn away the undergrowth.

The trees have been known to survive wildfires in the past, but as wildfires become more intense, that has not been the case recently. The Castle Fire from last year destroyed hundreds of sequoias just south of the national park.