Firefighters have wrapped the base of the world’s largest tree in a fire-resistant blanket, in a bid to save it from the raging wildfires plaguing California.
The General Sherman Tree is the largest in the world by volume, at 52,508 cubic feet (1,487 cubic metres), according to the National Park Service.
It towers 275 feet (84 metres) high and has a circumference of 103 feet (31 metres) at ground level.
The colossal tree is in Sequoia National Park’s Giant Forest – a grove of 2,000 sequoias – and was wrapped for protection against the possibility of intense flames, fire spokeswoman Rebecca Paterson said.
According to NBC News, some other sequoias, the Giant Forest Museum and other buildings were also wrapped for protection.
The aluminium wrapping can withstand intensive heat for short periods and federal officials say they have been using the material for several years throughout the West Coast as protection from flames.
Some homes that were wrapped in protective material near Lake Tahoe survived a recent wildfire while others nearby were destroyed.
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The Colony Fire was expected to reach the Giant Forest at some point within days, fire officials said.
It comes after a wildfire killed thousands of sequoias, some as tall as high-rises and thousands of years old, in the region last year.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks Superintendent Clay Jordan stressed the importance of protecting the massive trees from high-intensity fire.
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A 50-year history of using prescribed burns — fires set on purpose to remove other types of trees and vegetation that would otherwise feed wildfires — in the parks’ sequoia groves was expected to help the giant trees survive by lessening the impact if flames reach them.
Paterson said: “A robust fire history of prescribed fire in that area is reason for optimism.
“Hopefully, the Giant Forest will emerge from this unscathed.”
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