Wildfire in Yosemite

July 11, 2022
Sequoia trees in Yosemite, California.

I’m standing right in front of the Grizzly Giant, which is arguably one of the most famous trees on earth. And we’ve got a sprinkler system set up around it …

A firefighter in Yosemite on the Washburn wildfire, which is threatening some of California’s largest and oldest sequoia trees at Yosemite National Park. The “Grizzly Giant” sequoia is 3,000 years old.

Why It Matters: Since the Washburn wildfire was first reported on Thursday, it has grown to cover more than 2,000 acres and is now threatening the historic sequoia trees in the Mariposa Grove area of Yosemite National Park.

  • InciWeb, a national incident website for wildfires, reports: "The fire is burning in difficult terrain with continuous heavy fuels in and around the fire. Significant tree mortality from 2013 – 2015 has left dead standing and dead fallen fuels." High temperatures are expected in the area throughout the rest of the week; the fire is expected to continue growing.
  • InciWeb also shares that "fire scars from past fires" around the edges of the current blaze "will assist firefighters in slowing the growth of the fire," which is 25% contained at this time, according to recent reports. Over 500 personnel have been deployed to fight the wildfire; they have set up sprinkler systems "to increase humidity" near the sequoias.
  • The Mariposa Grove area is currently closed and the surrounding Wawona community has been evacuated; the cause of the fire is currently unknown and being investigated.

History: In June of 1864, Pres. Abraham Lincoln granted the Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove to the state of California in order to preserve it for future generations of Americans — "the first time the government had ordered scenic areas to be protected for public benefit" (NBC News). It later became a part of Yosemite National Park, and is home to more than 500 giant sequoias.

Washburn Fire (InciWeb)

Firefighters use sprinkler system to protect some of California's oldest sequoia trees from raging wildfire at Yosemite National Park (CBS News)

Yosemite crews rush to protect sequoias as fire swells to over 2,000 acres (Axios)

Yosemite fire grows as crews protect iconic sequoias (Associated Press)

by Jenna Lee,