Crews are working to protect California's famed groves of giant sequoias as multiple fires nearby burn unabated.
The base of General Sherman, the largest tree in the world by volume at 275 feet tall and over 36 feet wide, and other sequoias in Sequoia National Park's Giant Forest have been covered in a protective foil due to the threat of intense heat from the KNP Complex fires.
"These trees are adaptive to fire, but not intense fire, so we want to do everything that we can to protect these trees as well as all these historic cabins that are on the national park," Steven Bekkerus, a public information officer for the KNP Complex, told Fresno ABC station KFSN Thursday.
The Giant Forest, home to more than 2,000 giant sequoias, has a "really good history" of prescribed fires, though recent drought could but them at greater risk, according to Jon Wallace, an operations section chief for the KNP Complex.
"There's a lot of concern with this drought this year, that that drought has decreased the resilience of those trees, even with all the prescribed fire that's taken place," Wallace said in a video update Friday.
The KNP Complex was ignited by lightning the night of Sept. 9 and is composed of the Paradise Fire and the Colony Fire. It has burned over 11,300 acres and is 0% contained.
Crews have been prepping the Giant Forest, including removing fuel and applying foil wraps to the sequoias, before the area is potentially impacted as the fire "continues to grow in all directions," the National Park Service said in an update Friday.
Meanwhile, a second wildfire burning farther south in Sequoia National Forest threatens groves of sequoias in the 1.1-million-acre forest. The Windy Fire, which was also ignited by lightning on Sept. 9, has burned over 6,800 acres and is 0% contained.
Earlier this week, crews were seen wrapping cabins and other structures in Sequoia National Forest in foil to protect them as the Windy Fire continues to grow.
Sequoia National Park and parts of Sequoia National Forest are closed to the public due to the fires.
Evacuation orders and warnings are in place for several communities in Tulare County, including in Three Rivers due to the KNP Complex and in Johnsondale, Camp Whitsett, Ponderosa and Quaking Aspen due to the Windy Fire.
Heavy smoke has affected visibility, hindering aerial firefighting efforts, as well as air quality in the region.
More than 10,400 personnel are helping fight 14 "active large wildfires" in the state, including the KNP Complex fires and Windy Fire, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
California's massive sequoias, which shoot up hundreds of feet into the sky, have been around for thousands of years and have long withstood fires. But extreme fires and dry conditions driven by climate change are threatening the ancient trees. Last year's Castle Fire wiped out 10% of the world’s native sequoias, according to the National Park Service.