Wildfire threatens famous California sequoia forest

·1-min read

One of California's most famous forests is under threat from a wildfire.

The 7,000-acre KNP Complex fire, which comprises two big wildfires, is burning about a mile away from the Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park, according to public information officer Rebecca Paterson.

The forest is home to sequoia trees, including the largest tree on Earth, dubbed General Sherman.

About 115 employees have been evacuated from the park, along with residents of the eastern part of the town of Three Rivers, Ms Paterson said.

The park was closed on Tuesday as the fire began to threaten the Giant Forest, she said.

The fires have grown significantly this week with zero containment, the federal Inciweb fire information system said on Wednesday.

The fire was started by lightning strikes on 10 September and is burning in steep canyons, fuelled by dry timber and chaparral.

Dry conditions and winds of up to 25mph may help the fire grow in the coming days, the Inciweb system said.

Air quality in the area is poor, and the parts of Three Rivers that were not evacuated have been warned to be ready to leave, Ms Paterson said.

The park service has been conducting prescribed burns in the area, which officials hope will minimise the impact on the giant sequoias if the fire does reach them, she added.

Sequoias depend on fire as part of their life cycle, but some massive, intense fires fuelled by climate change may do more damage than in the past.

"Even if fire does reach the Giant Forest that does not mean it will be devastating once it gets there," Ms Paterson said.

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