PUBLISHED: July 27, 2018 at 6:00 am | UPDATED: July 27, 2018 at 9:04 am
As flames from the Ferguson Fire burn closer to some of the world’s oldest and largest trees, firefighters are racing to protect ancient sequoias on Yosemite National Park’s western edge, reported Paul Rogers of the Bay Area News Group.
About 25 Yosemite firefighters with fire hoses have surrounded Merced Grove — whose immense trees tower more than 200 feet tall and date back 1,000 years. They spent Thursday cutting fire lines by hand around the famous site, hoping to slow the blaze and reduce its intensity if it enters the venerable forest depicted on thousands of postcards and tourist photographs.
“It’s basically a defense,” said Scott Gediman, a Yosemite spokesman. “When you look at the fire progression and the scenarios where it could go, the Merced Grove hasn’t seen fire in a long time. We are doing it as a preventative measure.”
By Friday morning, the fire had grown to 45,911 acres and was 29 percent contained. Park officials who ordered Yosemite Valley evacuated Tuesday during the height of summer tourist season said they remain hopeful the flames will not reach Merced Grove. The fire is now slightly more than 2 miles south of Merced Grove, which is located 1.5 miles south of Highway 120 near Crane Flat.
Merced Grove is one of three ancient sequoia groves in Yosemite National Park. Although it has more than 100 sequoias, 32 are the massive giants, with trunks more than 30 feet around.