TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KGPE) — The latest update has the KNP Complex Fire at 49,500 acres and 20 percent containment, fire officials say.
The fire has been burning approximately 20 days now and there are about 1,500 firefighters working to contain the blaze, according to fire officials.
Fire officials said Thursday that conditions had caused the areas of active fire to decrease in intensity, allowing firefighters on the ground to make more progress on containment. For park officials, taking every necessary step to protect iconic giant sequoia trees has been a priority.
“After having the SQF Complex last year and losing 10-14 percent of all giant sequoias in the world, that really stuck with us and we wanted to do everything we could this year to prevent that from happening,” said Sintia Kawasaki-Yee, Seqouia and Kings Canyon National Park Public Information Officer.
Park officials have been wrapping some of the sequoia trees in fire resistant material and igniting prescribed burns to get rid of dry vegetation on the ground. Officials say that process has helped some of the sequoias get through the worst of the fire.
Fire officials say cooler conditions have helped firefighters make progress, and that most of the fire activity is isolated to specific sections of the park.
“Most of the fire is burning northeast of here,” said KNP Complex fire spokesperson Mark Garrett. “North of Lodgepole, and then up north of Crystal Cave, and then down in the southeast by Mineral King Rd.”
A major concern regarding the KNP Complex fire is the General Sherman Tree, a giant sequoia considered one of the largest trees in the world, that may have have been threatened by the blaze. Fire officials say the KNP Complex fire got within about 100 yards of the General Sherman on Sept. 19, but firefighters were able to put a stop to it.
Sequoia and King Canyon National Parks remained closed to visitors at this time.