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Will General Sherman survive the Californian blaze?

General Sherman is 275 feet tall and over 36 feet in diameter, the largest tree in the world. Most of the giant trees in California's Sequoia National Park are as old as 2,500 years to 7,500 years. They are considered the oldest in the world. Wildfires in drought-stricken California this year damaged more than 3,000 homes and torched well over 7,770 sq km of forest land. The raging fires have entered the park. Thousands of workers and aerial sprinklers are on the job of saving the precious heritage. Some believe nothing will happen to Sherman!

SACRAMENTO, Sept 21: The US National Park Service (NPS) firefighters are wrapping the 2,700-year old historic giant General Sherman, the world's largest tree, in California's Sequoia National Park, and other such huge trees with fire-proof aluminium blankets to save them from the blaze raging though drought-hit western US.

At the same time, Park officials believe these giant sequoia trees are adapted to fire and will survive, especially as the thick bark could insulate the base and the leafy branches are up too high to catch fire.

The base is swaddled with the blanket "to prevent embers from getting into the tree." NPS said aluminium blankets can protect trees and homes for short periods.

Workers are also moving away duff lest it will attract fire. Because duff will catch fire easily and smolder longer to damage the trees by flashing embers. Aircraft have also been deployed to fly over the area, dropping fire retardant. Sprinklers too are at work.

Some saving grace is that the sequoia forest area had had controlled (strategic/prescribed fires) burns previously.

According to NPS, General Sherman is 275 feet tall and over 36 feet in diameter. Most of the giant trees in California's Sequoia National Park are as old as 2,500 years to 7,500 years. California's sequoias are considered the oldest in the world. The forest houses more than 2,000 giant sequoias.

"We have reached a tipping point — lack of frequent fire for the past century in most groves, combined with the impacts of a warming climate, have made some wildfires much more deadly for sequoias," the NPS said. Two-thirds of all giant sequoia grove acreage across the Sierra Nevada burned in wildfires in the last five years.

As California’s Sierra Nevada wildfire started threatening to enter the Sequoia National Park, the NPS officials closed the park for the public. On September 14 officials started evacuating nearby homes. Two wildfires are threatening Sequoia National Park's giant trees.

Over the weekend parts of California received rain and relief from wildfire can be expected, but continuing extreme to exceptional drought may not provide the needed relief. There is a general decrease in the intensity elesewhere but wildfires in southern California are active.

Wildfires in California this year have damaged or destroyed more than 3,000 homes and other buildings and torched well over 3,000 square miles (7,770 square kilometres) of forest land, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Over 10,600 of the trees were lost in last year's fire.

Seventy one large fires have burned 3,219,092 acres in 12 States. More than 17,000 wildland fire personnel are assigned the job of putting out the blaze.

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