Firefighters and conservationists have wrapped the largest tree on Earth in a special heat-proof blanket to prevent it from catching fire.
Concerns are that the ‘General Sherman’, a sequoia tree that sits in the Giant Forest of Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks (KNP), could be in the way of oncoming wildfires which are destroying the state of California.
The fire, which is presumed to have started after a lightning strike, now covers over 9,365-acres (3,800 hectares) and is expanding very quickly, despite attempts by firefighters and firefighting airplanes to subdue the blaze. The fire now got to the edge of the forest in which General Sherman is located.
In a statement on Facebook, the NPS wrote:
“The KNP Complex, ignited by lightning on the night of September 9, continues to grow in Sequoia National Park. The complex is comprised of the Paradise Fire and the Colony Fire. The Paradise Fire is currently measured at 7,352 acres, and the Colony Fire is currently measured at 2,013 acres, for a combined total for the KNP Complex of 9,365 acres, with 0% containment.”
“Crews are preparing the Giant Forest before the fire reaches that area, by removing fuel and applying structure wrap on some of the iconic monarch sequoias that characterize the most famous area of Sequoia National Park. The fire continues to grow in all directions. In recent days, crews continue structure protection around NPS headquarters and housing areas at Ash Mountain. Air operations is providing support to crews on the ground as well as structure protection for cabins in the Mineral King area. Cal-Fire and Tulare County is providing structure protection efforts in the Three Rivers Community outside the park, including creating fire breaks with dozers.”
General Sherman is 83.8 meters (275 feet) tall and is 11 meters (36 feet) in diameter at its base. Its volume is measured at 1,487 cubic meters (52,500 cubic feet), which makes it the largest tree by volume on Earth, although there are taller trees.
The Great Forest contains over 2,000 sequoias and 5 of the 10 largest trees in the world. The unique natural structures make the Great Forest one of the biggest tourist attractions in California, with millions of people visiting it each year.