By Brian Clark Howard, National Geographic
While 20,000 people are evacuated in the wake of several massive wildfires burning across Northern and central California, firefighters are scrambling to protect some of the state’s natural treasures.
The largest active fire in the state, the Rough Fire, has burned 138,053 acres in and around Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks in the Sierra Nevada. More than 3,200 personnel are battling the blaze, which is at 40-percent containment, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Media reports have focused on how the blaze may threaten giant sequoias and a famous trunk called the Chicago Stump, which was shown at the Chicago World’s Fair more than a century ago. The stump is all that remains of the huge General Noble sequoia, which was cut up in 1897 for transport to the fair.
But as of Monday the Chicago Stump “is in really good shape,” says John Nichols, a Forest Service information officer assigned to the Rough Fire. “It’s wrapped in fire-resistant material and has three sprinklers on it.”
The blaze is on a slow creep in the vicinity of the stump, which is now anchored into the ground and would be too difficult to move, Nichols says.
Living sequoias, some of which are several thousand years old, also are weathering the blaze well.