Two wildfires in the US state of California are threatening some of the world’s largest and oldest trees in the area, according to the US National Park Service (NPS).
Sequoia National Park in California, home to giant sequoia trees – the world’s largest, was forced to shut down due to the fires.
“Active wildfires caused by a significant lightning storm on Thursday September 9 are still growing and have the potential to affect Sequoia National Park infrastructure and resources,” the park said in a statement.
“We are aggressively attacking these fires to suppress them,” the statement added.
NPS, the US agency that manages all national parks, said that “due to active fires, services and facilities in Sequoia National Park are closed, including roads, visitor centers, lodges, and campgrounds.”
The park’s website says it had to be closed to “better provide public and firefighter safety due to the ongoing California wildfire crisis,” adding that the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region is announcing a temporary closure of all National Forests in California.
“We do not take this decision lightly, but this is the best choice for public safety,” said Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien.
According to the park, giant sequoia trees have lived with fire for thousands of years. But as of 2015, higher severity fires have killed unprecedented numbers of large giant sequoias.
Four fires that took place between 2015 and 2020 killed two-thirds of all giant sequoias in the park, the park said, adding that the estimated numbers of dead large sequoias may change, as “fire-related mortality can continue for years after a fire.”
In 2020, a fire killed an estimated 7,500 to 10,600 large sequoias, NPS said.