Fire sparked by lightning threatens giant sequoias in California

·1 min read
A tree in California's Giant Sequoia National Monument.
A tree in California's Giant Sequoia National Monument. David McNew/Getty Images

A fire sparked by lightning last Thursday entered the Peyone Sequoia grove in California's Giant Sequoia National Monument on Monday, and authorities say it's unclear if it has destroyed any of the massive trees.

Called the Windy Fire, this blaze started in the Tule River Indian Reservation, and as of Monday has burned 974 acres and is at zero percent containment. More than 130 lightning strikes were recorded in the area on Thursday, and two other fires were also started that day: the Paradise and Colony fires in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks. Together, those have burned 1,037 acres and are at zero percent containment.

Sequoia trees can grow to more than 250 feet and live for 3,000 years. They have also adapted to fire and need it to reproduce, Mark Ruggiero, a public information officer for the national parks, told the Los Angeles Times, but "fires are burning so intense that it's really affecting the sequoia population." The 275-foot tall General Sherman tree — the world's largest tree by volume — is in the Sequoia National Park, and while the fire burning there isn't close to the landmark, it is a "threat," Ruggiero said.

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