Hundreds of firefighters were battling an out-of-control fire in prestigious Yosemite Park, California on Monday July 11, whose flames threaten iconic giant sequoias. The fire, which reached the area of ​​Mariposa Grove, the most popular area of ​​the park because it contains hundreds of the tallest redwoods in the world, covers about 945 hectares, authorities said.

Fire “is not controlled at all”Nancy Phillipe, a spokesperson for information on the fires in Yosemite, told AFP. Time doesn’t help. The weather should remain warm and dry for the next few days. “We are doing everything possible to shut it down, we are using air resources, tankers and helicopters” in addition to the ground crew, added Nancy Philip.

Some 545 firefighters are now fighting the blaze, a number set to increase in the next few hours. This section of the park was extensively redeveloped and reopened in 2018. Yosemite, popular with rock-climbing enthusiasts for its cliffs, is one of the most famous large American parks in the world.

The town of Wawona, which houses several hotels, has been under evacuation order for several days. One of the teams prepares the “Grizzly Giant” (the most famous and spectacular giant sequoia in the park) for the approach of the flames by watering it continuously. These measures, combined with the voluntary fires carried out to prepare the park, make it possible to guaranteer “the best possible protection for trees”said Nancy Phillipe. Prescribed fires are intended to clear the undergrowth by consuming dead brush and tree trunks that have fallen to the ground, all of which can fuel the intensity of forest fires.

Low-intensity fires are generally not enough to damage giant sequoias, which naturally adapt to these disasters with their very thick bark. On the contrary, these redwoods need fires to reproduce: the heat of the flames causes fallen cones to burst like popcorn to release hundreds of seeds. However, these giants, which only grow in California, are not suited to the more intense fires that have tended to break out in recent years due to climate change.

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