Firefighters wrap world’s largest tree in protective foil as wildfire threatens sequoia groves

THREE RIVERS, Calif. — California firefighters are wrapping the bases of several giant trees in Sequoia National Park, including the 275-foot General Sherman, in fireproof aluminum blankets to protect them from the encroaching KNP Complex Fire.

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“Crews are preparing the Giant Forest before the fire reaches that area, by removing fuel and applying structure wrap on some of the iconic monarch sequoias that characterize the most famous area of Sequoia National Park,” the National Park Service said in a statement, noting that the fire “continues to grow in all directions.”

General Sherman, boasting a 36-foot diameter at its base, is believed to be the largest tree in the world.

>> Related: Wildfires force Sequoia National Park closure, threaten majestic trees

Crews also used the fireproof foil to cover the park’s Ash Mountain Entrance sign, carved out of blocks of sequoia wood, CNBC reported.

By Saturday afternoon, the Colony Fire and Paradise Fire, known collectively as the KNP Complex Fire, had merged into one blaze, reaching the edge of a historic grove of giant sequoia trees, The Fresno Bee reported.

John Wallace, an operations chief with the incident command team in charge of battling the blaze, told the newspaper that the fire grew by about 6,000 acres on Friday alone. Meanwhile, the wildfire’s eastward and northward growth has pushed flames into the westernmost tip of the Giant Forest grove, home to four large trees known as the Four Guardsmen, the Bee reported.

To date, the CNP Complex Fire has scorched nearly 18,000 acres and remains 0% contained, despite the best efforts of more than 400 firefighters, 28 fire engines, six tanker trucks and eight helicopters, the newspaper reported.

According to Inciweb, at least 28 fires have ignited in California and 129 others have spread across other western states since June, CNBC reported.

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