As Fire Engulfs 2,000 Acres, Yosemite Crews Rush to Protect Sequoias

After a wildfire that was reported in Yosemite National Park on Thursday grew five-fold over the weekend, it has triggered air quality alerts and evacuation orders while the park’s crews are trying to protect some of the world’s oldest giant sequoias the fire is threatening.

According to InciWeb, an interagency website that tracks wildfires, the Washburn Fire near the Washburn Trail in the famed Mariposa Grove area of the park – home to more than 500 giant sequoias – that was estimated at 60 to 70 acres when first reported, burned across at least 2,044 acres by Sunday evening.

As per a National Park Service update, the fire has forced the closure of Mariposa Grove and the nearby highway while firefighters and park crews battle to save the iconic trees.

Since authorities issued mandatory evacuation orders for the nearby community of Wawona and the Wawona Hotel and campground, about 1,600 people have evacuated, the National Park Service spokesperson Nancy Phillip said.

The spokesperson for the interagency fire response team in the park, Jay Nichols, informed that the firefighters are using a combination of removing fuel around the base of the trees and putting in sprinklers to change the humidity around it.

Inciweb points out that as high pressure strengthens over the area, a warming trend was expected to take place through Monday with hot and dry conditions expected to persist through at least the end of the week.

Winds will be generally light and terrain-driven,” Inciweb said. “Smoke from the fire will continue to impact Yosemite National Park for the next few days due to southerly transport winds.”

According to leading scientific research, climate change is a key driver in increased wildfire risk with extreme weather events but human-caused global warming is blamed to be behind the severity, longevity, and frequency of the heat waves.

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