Giant Sequoia General Sherman wrapped in protective blanket as KNP Complex Fire creeps closer

Jessica Harrington Image
Friday, September 17, 2021
KNP Complex Fire: Crews working to protect giant sequoias
In an effort to save the giant sequoias, crews have applied a special fire-resistant wrap to the trees as well as buildings to protect them.

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Tree hugging takes on a whole new meaning for crews working tirelessly to protect one of the planet's tallest treasures.

The base of the world's largest tree, General Sherman, is covered with aluminized structure wrap as the KNP Complex fire burning in Sequoia National Park creeps closer.

"These trees are adaptive to fire, but not intense fire, so we want to do everything we can to protect these trees as well as all these historic cabins that are on the National Park," said Steven Bekkerus, a public information officer for the KNP Complex Fire.

Multiple communities in Tulare County, including Mineral Kings and Three Rivers, have been forced to evacuate.

Fire officials say the blaze is burning in rugged, high country, making it difficult to access, but officials say on Thursday, firefighters were able to put some protection efforts in place.

"The fire is still active and it's still moving about but the growth itself was not a lot today," said Bekkerus.

Farther south, the Windy Fire is burning on the Tule River Indian Reservation and in the Sequoia National Forest.

Evacuation orders have been issued as the blaze threatens Johsondale and Camp Whitsett.

Smoke in the area has created an inversion layer. It slows fire behavior, but doesn't allow aircraft to fly because visibility is too low.

Firefighters are also stretched thin across the state.

"We're competing for resources just like all the other incidents," said Thanh Nguyen, a public information officer for the Windy Fire.

Historic buildings like the Mule Peak Lookout and signs are also being protected with aluminized structure wrap.

Nguyen said variables such as importance of the landmark, time and cleared brush around the structure are variables in determining what gets wrapped.

Fire crews wants residents to know along with these measures, they're also protecting homes to prevent heartbreak.

"We want everybody to know though, in the area, we totally sympathize with them and their concern and we're doing everything we can to put this thing out," Nguyen said.

Friday evening, National Park officials will be holding a community meeting for the KNP Complex fire.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the Three Rivers Veterans Memorial Building and it will also be streamed on the Sequoia National Forest Facebook page.

The public is welcome to attend to ask any questions they may have.