Sprinklers Installed to Protect Historic Sequoias amid Washburn Fire at Yosemite National Park

As of Sunday, the fire was 0% contained, according to the National Parks Service

Yosemite National Park Fires
Photo: Neal Waters/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Crews are working around the clock to fight the Washburn Fire, which is threatening some of the most beloved trees in Yosemite National Park.

More than 350 personnel are currently battling the 1,591-acre blaze, which broke out Thursday by the Washburn Trail in the Mariposa Grove area of Yosemite National Park, according to a news release from National Parks Service, shared by Yosemite Fire and Aviation on Facebook.

As of Sunday, the fire was 0% contained. Crews are concerned about protecting what they can — including the second largest tree in the Yosemite, and others of its kind in the Mariposa Grove.

The Grizzly Giant, which stands at 209-feet tall, is one of many giant sequoias currently threatened by the Washburn Fire, per the parks service. To protect them, a special "ground based" sprinkler system has been installed, with the goal of increasing the humidity around the cherished trees.

Yosemite Fire and Aviation shared footage of the sprinklers in action on their Facebook and Twitter pages on Saturday.

The parks service said it has also removed "heavy and fine fuels around the trees" in an effort to fight the fire. Current conditions present "significant safety hazards to firefighters" battling the blaze.

"Fortunately, the Mariposa Grove has a long history of prescribed burning," the NPS said, "and studies have shown that these efforts reduce the impacts of high-severity unwanted fire."

Additionally, the famous Galen Clark cabin has been wrapped in protective foil as the fire continues, Yosemite spokesperson Scott Gediman told CNN.

The Mariposa Grove, which is home to more than 500 mature giant sequoias, remains "closed until further notice," the parks service said in Sunday's release.

Yosemite National Park fires
National Park Service/AP

Highway 41, also known as the Wawona Road, is closed from the south entrance to Henness Ridge Road due to the fire, though Yosemite West is still accessible from the north side.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has also issued a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) for the area surrounding the fire, the NPS said.

Other portions of Yosemite National Park will remain open as the fire burns, but the parks service has warned potential visitors of "smoky conditions within the park."

"We appreciate the patience of the public as visitors may experience longer waits at the other entrance stations as the south entrance remains closed," the agency said Sunday.

Yosemite National Park fires
Stephen Lam/San Francisco Chronicle/AP

A community meeting addressing the Washburn Fire will take place Monday evening at 7 p.m. at the Oakhurst Community Center on Fresno Flats Road, according to Yosemite National Park.

A cause of the blaze is under investigation.

Related Articles