July 12, 2022 · less than 3 min read
The Washburn Fire broke out Thursday and continues to spread, closing in on a grove of giant sequoias.
Does this Mariposa threat?
Yosemite National Park draws over 3.5 million visitors every year. One of many reasons to visit is to check out the Mariposa Grove, the first scenic natural area to ever be protected by the US federal government. This Grove is full of very, very big and very, very old trees called giant sequoias.
The largest one is an insane 83 meters tall and 11 meters wide at the base, and these bad boys can live about 3,000 years. Unfortunately, the Mariposa Grove is threatened by a nearby wildfire that’s doubled in size in the space of a single day.
Firefighters are working very hard to a) control the fire and b) keep it away from this historic natural spot and the nearby community of Wawona. There’s a sprinkler system set up in the Grove, and about 700 people have been evacuated from Wawona.
Wildfires on the rise
The cause of this wildfire, dubbed the Washburn Fire, is under investigation. It broke out near the Washburn Trail on Thursday and had already spread over 2.5 square miles without containment by Sunday morning, prompting Yosemite fire information spokesperson Nancy Phillipe to say, “Up until this morning, the park has not been in that unhealthy category, but that is where we are now.”
Wildfires are a massive problem across the US currently. About 4.7 million acres have burned in the first half of 2022, which is a fair amount above average. And historic giant sequoias, which are only native in about 70 California groves, are becoming increasingly vulnerable. Fingers crossed for a happy ending here.
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