Jul 11, 2022
Growing wildfire in Yosemite National Park threatens ancient sequoias Transcript
Firefighters are working to fight a wildfire threatening the largest grove of giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park. Read the transcript here.
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An out-of-control wildfire, forcing evacuations in Yosemite National Park. Firefighters are battling severe conditions on the ground and in the sky, with flames covering more than three square miles and threatening the park’s famous giant sequoias, some of the largest trees in the world, some of the oldest living things on the planets.
Jonathan Vigliotti is in Yosemite. He’s made his way. Jonathan, good morning to you. What do we know?
Jonathan Vigliotti: (00:25)
And good morning to you, Tony. The Washburn fire is burning in an area this morning so remote it’s even difficult for fire crews to access it safely. In just the past day it’s nearly doubled in size, threatening trees that have survived all kinds of weather for thousands of years.
Jonathan Vigliotti: (00:42)
More than 2,000 acres of flames paired with blistering heat, low humidity and difficult terrain, some 500 firefighters are enduring brutal conditions while battling the Washburn fire, still burning out of control in a southern corner of Yosemite National Park.
Roy Freitas: (00:59)
So, obviously, with the higher temperatures that is going to increase the fire behavior and intensity of the fire.
Jonathan Vigliotti: (01:05)
The fire is so intense it’s creating its own weather system, causing updrafts powerful enough to launch debris into the air. One near-miss with an air attack tanker was caught on radio.
You know, a branch went right over the top of us, pretty good size. So if we keep seeing that, we might have to knock it off. I don’t want to take a chance of busting a window on an airplane or hurting an aircraft for this.
Jonathan Vigliotti: (01:27)
The nearby community of Wawona has been forced to evacuate while hikers, campers and vacationers have been sent packing. Hotshot crews are making their way throughout the area, tasked with strategically planning containment lines to save hundreds of iconic sequoias.
Speaker 5: (01:44)
I’m standing right in front of the Grizzly Giant, which is arguably one of the most famous trees on earth and we’ve got a sprinkler system set up around it and we’re trying to give it some preventative first aid, really.
Jonathan Vigliotti: (01:56)
In Utah, record-breaking heat and high winds are fueling massive wildfires in the state, the newest being the Jacob City fire whose flame spread to almost six square miles with zero containment.
Jonathan Vigliotti: (02:08)
Meanwhile, investigators have arrested four men they say abandoned a campfire that ignited the so-called Halfway Hill fire in Fillmore.
Speaker 6: (02:16)
We need to be super cautious and aware, especially during these red flag days that we have. There’s going to be many more to come.
Jonathan Vigliotti: (02:25)
And back here in California, megafires over the past few years have killed off an estimated 75,000 Sequoia trees. These are trees that were once believed to be fireproof because of their thick bark. In some cases, we’re talking two feet. But all of that armor is not enough to fend off the kinds of flames that scientists say are being fueled by our rapidly changing climate. Vlad?
Jonathan, thank you very much.