Updated Sep 15, 2021 - Energy & Environment

California fires force Sequoia National Park personnel to evacuate

A person at the base of the General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park in 2006.

A person at the base of the General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park in 2006. Photo: Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Two uncontained California wildfires are projected to spread toward Sequoia National Park, forcing around 75 park personnel to evacuate, AP reports.

Why it matters: Park officials said the fires have the potential to threaten a part of the park known as Giant Forest, which is home to more than 2,000 giant sequoias, including one that is considered the largest tree on Earth by volume.

  • The massive General Sherman Tree is 275 feet tall and over 36 feet in diameter at its base, according to the National Park Service.

What they're saying: “There’s no imminent threat to Giant Forest but that is a potential,” Mark Ruggiero, fire information officer for Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, said Tuesday, according to AP.

  • Ruggiero said the closest flames were about a mile from Giant Forest on Tuesday morning.

The two fires ⁠— collectively called the KNP Complex ⁠— were ignited by lightning on Sept. 9 and have since grown to 7,039 acres as of Wednesday afternoon, according to federal wildfire data.

  • The Paradise Fire, the largest of the two, spread north toward Sequoia National Park on Tuesday, crossing the Kaweah River and the Generals Highway.
  • Multiple communities south of Giant Forest have been ordered to evacuate, while others have received evacuation warnings.

The big picture: California this year has been battered by multiple large wildfires, which are exacerbated by a climate change-caused megadrought across the West.

  • The Dixie Fire, now the second-largest wildfire in the state's recorded history, has torched more than 960,5oo acres and is 75% contained.

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