TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE) – As the KNP Complex fire continues to burn, officials gave a tour of the giant sequoias trees in Sequoia National Park.
“People said you don’t know that was sequoias,” said National Park Service representative for Kings and Sequoia National Park Christy Bringham. “There are a lot of mixed conifers below the grove, there were a lot of dead trees. That plume could have been all mixed-conifer. I said, ‘Not based on that foilage falling at Hume Lake.”
When Bringham saw a video of the KNP Complex fire at Hume Lake this year, she started to have flashbacks to the Castle Fire from 2020 that torched 7,000-10,000 giant sequoias.
Now, while looking out over the Redwood Mountain Grove, she was shocked to see how many of the giant trees survived this year.
“We dodged a bullet,” she said. “That is how I feel. I feel like because of weather, and previously prescribed burning and some really hard work by the crews we did not see the damage that we would have.”
Bringham said the KNP complex fire has impacted at least four sequoia groves but it is too early to tell how many giant trees are torched.
Most of the trees at General Grant Grove continue to stand tall. Park and fire officials were able to protect General Grant, which is the second-largest tree in the world, by using a number of methods including sprinklers and fire-resistant wrap.”
“Pretty much two full days to protect this tree,” said Bringham. “To get the sprinklers in, to do the raking, to decide where to put the structure wrap. A lot of work went into protecting the nation’s living Christmas Tree.”
This cabin on the same trail was spared after crews wrapped it completely. While this grove survived, officials said regulations are making it harder to do the prescribed burns, and forest management needed to clear out overcrowded and dangerous spots.
“These conditions normally take years to treat,” said National Park Service Representative John Ziegler. “It is not something that you want to treat at the last minute when you have a raging fire approaching a wildfire.”
Officials said in the upcoming weeks, crews will use helicopters, and drone technology to map the area to find out how many giant sequoias were lost.