A huge wildfire that burned among California’s sequoias, prompting the base of the famous General Sherman Tree to be wrapped in a protective blanket, has been declared fully contained, officials said Friday.
The full containment of the KNP Complex comes more than three months after the two fires that comprised it were sparked by lightning in early September. The fires, which merged into one, burned 88,307 acres.
“We hope that total containment on the KNP Complex is a comfort not only to local communities, but to people everywhere who care about the parks,” Leif Mathiesen, assistant fire management officer for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, said in a statement.
The KNP Complex was declared 100 percent contained Thursday, meaning its perimeter is secure and it isn’t expected to grow. The declaration was helped by snow and rain, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks said. The complex hadn’t grown for weeks but was still active in some spots.
It could be months before the complex is officially deemed out, the park service said. Fires can continue to smolder in places like downed trees, even through the winter.
As the fires burned in September, firefighters wrapped the General Sherman Tree, and other sequoia and structures, with aluminum fire-resistant blankets to protect against the threat of flames.
The General Sherman, the world’s largest tree by volume, is just shy of 275 feet tall and is has a diameter of 36 feet at its base. The giant sequoia is estimated to be around 2,200 years old.
The fire did not damage the famous tree and the Giant Forest where it stands was largely spared.
But the KNP Complex and another wildfire, the Windy Fire, destroyed thousands of other sequoias.
Between 2,261 and 3,637 sequoias over 4 feet in diameter have died or will die within the next three to five years because of the two fires, a damage estimate concluded.