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Yosemite wildfire threatens iconic sequoias

The Washburn Fire in Yosemite National Park is threatening sequoia trees in Mariposa Grove, officials said this week. Photo by U.S. National Park Service
The Washburn Fire in Yosemite National Park is threatening sequoia trees in Mariposa Grove, officials said this week. Photo by U.S. National Park Service

July 8 (UPI) -- A wildfire in California's Yosemite National Park that is burning in Mariposa Grove is threatening its iconic giant sequoia trees, according to officials.

The Washburn Fire had burned up to 70 acres of land in the lower area of the grove, forcing park officials to close the location. Firefighters used tanker planes to attack the fire through the air as well as on the ground, the national park said on Thursday.

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Mariposa Grove is the home of more than 500 giant sequoia trees, some as tall as 250 feet high and more than 2,000 years old.

More than 3.3 million tourists visited Yosemite National Park in 2021, making it one of the most visited national parks in the country. It covers 1,200 square miles in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in eastern California.

Wildfires have created havoc for California in recent years, with its 2021 wildfire season burning more than 2.5 million acres in over 8,800 incidents and killing three people.

Currently, the Electra Fire, in Amador and Calaveras counties, has burned 4,272 acres and was 60% contained as of Thursday. The Rices Fire, in Nevada County, covered 904 acres and was 98% contained.

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Nearly 23,000 acres have been affected by wildfires this year in almost 3,600 incidents, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

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