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Firefighters start to contain blaze in California’s Yosemite

Firefighters start to contain blaze in California’s Yosemite

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— (Reuters) Firefighters in California have started to limit a wildfire that started in Yosemite National Park around four days ago and has threatened some of the oldest big sequoia trees in the world.

The world’s largest tree species by mass, the iconic giant sequoias of the park, have not been recorded as being destroyed by the fire, according to officials.

In a video conference, Matt Ahearn, operations section chief for California Interagency Incident Management Team 13, said, “We are starting to see some containment.”

Zero percent containment, according to a press release issued after Ahearn’s briefing. The fire incident management team’s public relations officer said he was investigating the discrepancy but added that he was aware of containment areas on the most recent fire map and anticipated the incident to report some containment.

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Ahearn stated that the fire has consumed 2,044 acres (827 hectares), however he did not specify the percentage of containment.

Since Friday, the park’s Mariposa Grove, which is home to more than 500 gigantic sequoias, has been closed. A campground and the community of Wawona, which is situated inside the park, were also evacuated. The rest of the park is still accessible.

Firefighters installed sprinklers in an effort to safeguard massive sequoias, including the almost 3,000-year-old “Grizzly Giant” tree.

Giant sequoias have coexisted with lightning-sparked fires that keep redwood forests healthy for millennia thanks to their thick bark.

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According to experts, drought-stressed sequoias have become more susceptible to intense wildfire activity, which is a sign of human-caused climate change, occurring more frequently.

The gigantic sequoia’s natural home in California’s Sierra Nevada range, where thousands of the trees were devastated in recent years by fires.

(Editing by Frank McGurty and Aurora Ellis; reporting by Andrew Hay from Taos, New Mexico)

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