Officials from California’s Sequoia National Park made a disturbing discovery while conducting a survey to determine the effects of the 2020 Castle Fire…a giant sequoia in the area known as Board Camp Grove was found still smoldering and emitting smoke months after historic wildfires devastated the region last August.
The Castle Fire, which was ignited by a lightning strike last summer ended up burning down 270+ square miles of land before it was contained in December. Photos of the tree clearly show smoke rising from the trunk. Researchers went in for a closer look and discovered burning embers inside the tree which apparently stayed lit despite rain and snowfall in the winter.
The Guardian reports this type of burning isn’t entirely unusual because the inside of the immense trunk of a sequoia (largest tree in the world in volume) can act like a wood-burning stove, protecting and feeding the fire enough oxygen for it to survive for long periods of time.
Although The Castle Fires were started by natural causes, its incredibly important to remember proper fire safety out in our national parks this summer. Find the full press release and campfire safety video by CalFire below ↓↓↓↓
News Release Date: May 5, 2021
Contact: Mike Theune, Fire Information Officer, 559-565-3703
SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, Calif. May 5, 2021 – Recently, National Park Service scientists and fire crews were surveying the effects from the 2020 Castle Fire in Sequoia National Park, when they observed a still smoldering and smoking giant sequoia tree that appears to be caused from last year’s fire.
There are no current threats to life or property and fire managers are prepared to take action if conditions warrant. The burning giant sequoia is well interior of any firelines and is away from any trails. It is located in the Board Camp Grove and there is no direct access via any trail system. However, it may be still visible from the Ladybug Trail which leaves east bound from the South Fork Campground at the southern end of Sequoia National Park.
“The fact areas are still smoldering and smoking from the 2020 Castle Fire demonstrates how dry the park is,” said Leif Mathiesen, assistant fire management officer for Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. “With the low amount of snowfall and rain this year, there may be additional discoveries as spring transitions into summer,” he added.
Firefighters and park rangers want to take this opportunity to remind the public the importance of staying on trails, being observant, having a plan, and letting someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return. It’s also important to let that someone know that you’ve returned.
Many of the areas impacted by last year’s wildfires in the parks are in wilderness. While day use does not require a separate permit from the parks’ entrance fee, any overnight stays do require an additional permit. For information on wilderness permits, visit https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/wilderness_permits.htm for details.