TULARE COUNTY, Calif. — Sequoia National Park says lightning-sparked wildfires in the past two years have killed a minimum of nearly 10,000 giant sequoia trees in California.
The estimate released Friday accounts for 13% to 19% of the native sequoias that are the largest trees on Earth. The trees are reliant on periodic low-intensity fire and were once seen as fire-resistant.
But fires that have become more severe as climate change has brought hotter droughts and fires have torn through dozens of groves in the Sierra Nevada mountains in the last six years, killing the giants in large numbers for the first time. Extraordinary firefighting measures this year helped save some giants.
Sequoia National Park was temporarily closed after lightning on Sept. 9 ignited two fires that merged to form the KNP Complex, scorching nearly 138 square miles of forest. It partially reopened early November.
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