A growing wildfire that threatens a famed giant sequoia tree grove in California’s Yosemite National Park has forced officials to issue evacuation orders for a nearby community, officials said Friday.
The Washburn Fire has swelled to nearly 500 acres as it burns near the lower portion of Mariposa Grove, Yosemite park officials said. Firefighters are working from the ground and air to suppress the blaze, and park officials said the grove will remain closed until further notice.
Amid the fire’s expansion, park officials urged people in Yosemite’s Wawona campground and community to evacuate.
Mariposa Grove is home to more than 500 giant sequoia trees, which can grow to over 250 feet tall. And while the grove was founded in 1857, they existed long before that, with some believed to be more than 2,000 years old.
Yosemite is one of the most visited national parks in the US, drawing more than 3.3 million people in 2021. It encompasses nearly 1,200 square miles in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in eastern California.
Meanwhile, California crews are also battling the Electra Fire, which has scorched more than 4,400 acres across Amador and Calaveras counties, also in the Sierra Nevadas, according to Cal Fire.
The western US has been ravaged by wildfires in recent years, exacerbated by drought conditions tied to climate change. In California alone, more than 2.5 million acres were destroyed in nearly 9,000 fires last year, according to Cal Fire.
Last month, officials in Southern California said they were bracing for another challenging summer and fall amid a shortage of firefighting crews and increased workloads.
Crew are constructing direct fireline on the Washburn Fire in the Yosemite National Park. With the current Fire activity they are making great progress. Thanks to the Substack subscriber who passed this video along. 🍻🙏 #california #washburnfire #wildfire #yosemite #cali #cawx pic.twitter.com/b9eooXEe6G
— TheHotshotWakeUp (@HotshotWake) July 8, 2022