ECONOMY

California wildfires: Firefighters wrap blanket around world’s oldest tree


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irefighters have wrapped the world’s oldest tree in a fire-resistant blanket as ferocious wildfires burn in California’s Sierra Nevada.

Crews are desperately trying to save a grove of 2,000 gigantic ancient sequoias as fires rage on at the Sequoia National Park.

The world’s oldest tree, dubbed General Sherman, is among several sequoias to be wrapped in the protective material, fire spokesperson Rebecca Paterson said.

Standing as tall as a high rise, General Sherman towers 275ft and has a circumference of 103 ft at ground level. It is thought to be around 2,300 to 2,700 years old.

Buildings and the Giant Forest Museum have also been covered in the aluminum wrapping which can withstand intensive heat for short periods.

Federal officials say they have been using the material for several years throughout the US West to protect sensitive structures from flames.

Near Lake Tahoe, some homes that were wrapped in protective material survived a recent wildfire while others nearby were destroyed.

California firefighters wrap historic Sequoia National Park entrance sign with fire-proof blankets to protect them from huge blazes

/ NATIONAL PARK SERVICE/AFP via Ge

The Colony Fire is one of two blazes caused by lightning at the national park and is expected to reach the Giant Forest within days.

However, the fire did not grow significantly on Thursday when a layer of smoke reduced its spread.

“Hopefully, the Giant Forest will emerge from this unscathed,” Ms Paterson said.

Last year, a wildfire killed thousands of sequoias as tall as high-rises and thousands of years old in the region.

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