A wildfire raging near California’s famous Yosemite National Park – one of several blazes searing America’s West Coast – has entered a 2700-year-old grove of famed giant sequoias, among the largest and longest-living organisms on Earth.
California fire officials confirmed the inferno had entered the Nelder Grove, site of 106 ancient sequoias, including one of the world’s largest – the 24-storey Bull Buck sequoia.
It was unclear if any of the trees had been destroyed, although California Department of Fire officials confirmed firefighters were focusing on efforts to save the grove.
Fire officials say the high number of already dead trees in the area is hampering their fight against the more than 20sq/km wildfire.
Giant sequoia survive in only a few dozen scattered groves in Northern California.
Meanwhile a wildfire on the northern edge of Los Angeles has rapidly grown into what the mayor has called the largest blaze in the city’s history, prompting the evacuation of hundreds of people and the closure of a major highway.
The 2023 hectare La Tuna Fire, named after the canyon area where it erupted on Friday, has led authorities to evacuate more than 700 homes in a north Los Angeles neighbourhood and in nearby Burbank and Glendale, officials said.
Authorities warned of erratic winds that could force them to widen the evacuation zone, after the fire destroyed one house in Los Angeles on Saturday.
“Other than that, no loss of any property,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a news conference. “That is a pretty amazing thing.”
The fire was only 10 per cent contained with more than 500 firefighters battling it.
The blaze in thick brush that has not burned in decades was slowly creeping down a rugged hillside on Saturday toward houses, with temperatures in the area approaching 38 degrees Celsius, the Los Angeles Fire Department said in an alert.
“This fire, which broke out yesterday, we can now say is the largest fire in the history of LA city, in terms of its acreage,” Mr Garcetti told reporters.
The fire could make air unhealthy to breathe in parts of Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest city, and nearby suburbs, the South Coast Air Quality Management District said in an advisory.