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A plume of smoke and flames rises in the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Park near Three Rivers, California, on Saturday. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters in Sequoia National Park were working into the night after two wildfires merged to reach the Giant Forest on Saturday.

Why it matters: This forest contains over 2,000 giant sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree — the world's largest tree by volume. Park officials wrapped the redwoods in foil last week as the Paradise and Colony Fires, now known as the KNP Complex Fire, neared. Protection efforts appeared to be working overnight.

A U.S. Forest Service vehicle at the Sequoia National Park historic park entrance sign, which has been wrapped in fire-resistant foil along Generals Highway. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

What's happening: Park officials said in a statement just after 1am Sunday ET that the blaze had reached the grouping of sequoias known as the "Four Guardsmen," which mark the entrance to the Giant Forest.

  • But the statement from the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks added that "fuel removal efforts by firefighters, combined with structure wrap applied by crews to the base of the iconic sequoia trees, successfully protected these national treasures."

Threat level: The KNP Complex fire was expected to remain active throughout the night, per InciWeb. A red flag warning was in place through Sunday.

  • "Crews are preparing for changes and possible significant increases in fire activity," according to a statement from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks earlier Saturday.

Zoom in: Lightning ignited both the Paradise and Colony Fires on Sept. 10.

  • John Wallace, an operations chief with the incident command team in charge of battling the wildfire, confirmed in a live-streamed update Saturday that "we now have one fire that grew together yesterday."
  • The blaze had burned across 17,857 acres and was 0% contained as of Saturday, per the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Zoom out: California has this year been hammered by multiple large wildfires, and this mega-blaze is among 10 large fires burning in the state. 73 large blazes are burning across the U.S., according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

  • A UN report found last month that there's an "unequivocal" connection between human-caused global warming and extreme weather events.

Flashback: Last year's Castle Fire that raged across the Sierra Nevada destroyed 10% to 14% of Earth's mature redwood trees, a draft report from National Park Service scientists found in June.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more details on the fire and further context.

Go deeper

California wildfire swells, triggering more evacuations, power shutoffs

A firefighter battles the Alisal Fire on Oct. 12. Photo: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

More than 1,300 California firefighters are working to contain the wind-driven blaze that triggered new evacuation orders and far-reaching power shut-offs, officials said.

The big picture: The Alisal Fire, which ignited near the Alisal Reservoir on Monday, now spans more than 15,000 acres and is only 5% contained, according to Inciweb, an inter-agency incident information site.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.

Manchin, Schumer huddle with Biden in Delaware to discuss spending bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (L) and Sen. Joe Manchin (R) at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 13, 2014. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will meet with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday morning in Delaware as Democrats look to reach an agreement on the massive spending measure.

Driving the news: Democrats are still negotiating what to keep in the bill and how to pay for it, with Biden saying on Thursday that the party does not have the votes to raise the corporate tax rate.