Firefighters are still actively working to protect the Giant Sequoia trees in Yosemite National Park from the Washburn Fire.
Since the start of the fire on July 7th, officials have reportedly avoided significant damages within the park. However, the 2,340 acre fire is believed to have doubled in size over the weekend.
Yesterday, firefighters continued to prioritize creating a perimeter around the Mariposa Grove that includes more than 500 mature Sequoia trees. Additionally, historical locations of the park such as the Galen Clark Cabin have been wrapped in protective foil. These updates followed an initiative to place 4-foot sprinklers at the base of the trees as another layer of protection and a way to add needed moisture to the air.
Monday evening (July 11th), the Washburn Fire was reportedly 25% contained, although the fire still impacted crucial portions of the park and high temperatures and smoke affected areas as far as San Francisco.
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) July 12, 2022
Robbie Johnson, the spokesperson for fire response, shared that even though the fire has now entered a tree grove, the prescribed burns and ground-material clearing completed in the Mariposa Grove regularly is helping substantially.
Nancy Phillipe, a park ranger with Yosemite Fire concurred stating, “with the temporary sprinkler system that is in place, we are confident that’s giving those giant sequoias the best protection available.”
Giant sequoias have long been believed to be fire resistant due to their immense size, however, the increase of wildfires in the area mixed with drought conditions has made the trees more susceptible to damage, in turn leading to more focused plans for their protection.
Recent audio released from firefighter pilots revealed that tree branches and debris from the wildfire are being pulled up into the air, hitting aircrafts that are helping fight the fires. This is extremely atypical for forest fire conditions even of this caliber, and pilots have expressed concerns about safety if this continues.
Listen to Pilot Audio Here:
#WashburnFire interesting little chat. Near miss with a tree branch and Air Attack and Tanker 103. As civilians, we just see planes dropping loads. But listen to this choreography that goes on behind the scenes of fire. pic.twitter.com/Dn2CcTZ7qV
The picture below shows a firefighter protecting a giant sequoia’s base.
Yosemite Fire crews hosing down the Grizzly Giant in Yosemite's Mariposa Grove. Crews also cleared away flammable debris from the base of this and other trees in the grove. Photo by Linnea Hardlund. pic.twitter.com/JxWWN6BvjS