Yosemite Fire Now Threatens Giant Sequoias

Officials dig in as blaze looms 4 miles away

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 25, 2013 6:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – The Yosemite wildfire that is threatening to take out San Francisco's utilities now has some of the planet's biggest and oldest living things in its crosshairs: Firefighters are digging in around two groves of giant sequoias—about three dozen in all—taking the precautions of setting sprinklers and clearing brush amid dry conditions that could leave them vulnerable. "All of the plants and trees in Yosemite are important, but the giant sequoias are incredibly important both for what they are and as symbols of the National Park System," says a park spokesman.

The fire, which is about four miles away from the trees, has expanded so rapidly that the AP reports that it now has its own weather pattern, increasing its unpredictability. Strong winds and difficult terrain are complicating firefighting efforts, and about 4,500 structures are also threatened. The fire has devoured some 200 square miles, and was just 7% contained last night.

  (f.duckett)
In this undated photo provided by the U.S. Forest Service, the Rim Fire burns near Yosemite National Park, Calif. The wildfire outside Yosemite National Park — one of more than 50 major brush blazes burning across the western U.S. — more than tripled in size overnight and still threatens about...
In this undated photo provided by the U.S. Forest Service, the Rim Fire burns near Yosemite National Park, Calif. The wildfire outside Yosemite National Park — one of more than 50 major brush blazes burning...   (Uncredited)
Inmate firefighters walk along Highway 120 after a burnout operation as firefighters battle the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013.
Inmate firefighters walk along Highway 120 after a burnout operation as firefighters battle the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Trees burn in a burnout fire as firefighters continue to battle the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013.
Trees burn in a burnout fire as firefighters continue to battle the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A firefighter walks along Highway 120 past burning trees as firefighters battle the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013.
A firefighter walks along Highway 120 past burning trees as firefighters battle the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Trees burn in a burnout fire as firefighters continue to battle the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013.
Trees burn in a burnout fire as firefighters continue to battle the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A firefighter watches for spot fires during a burnout operation while battling the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013.
A firefighter watches for spot fires during a burnout operation while battling the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
The smoke generated by the Rim Fire rises under a star-filled sky near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013.
The smoke generated by the Rim Fire rises under a star-filled sky near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Inmate firefighters walk along Highway 120 as firefighters continue to battle the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013.
Inmate firefighters walk along Highway 120 as firefighters continue to battle the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Firefighters walk toward their trucks as the Rim Fire continues to burn near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013.
Firefighters walk toward their trucks as the Rim Fire continues to burn near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Firefighter John Curtis, of Big Bear, Calif., watches the Rim Fire burn near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013.
Firefighter John Curtis, of Big Bear, Calif., watches the Rim Fire burn near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A forest smolders as the Rim Fire continues to burn near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013.
A forest smolders as the Rim Fire continues to burn near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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