TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE)- The ancient massive trees of Sequoia National Park’s famed Giant Forest were unscathed Tuesday even though a wildfire has been burning near them on the western side of California’s Sierra Nevada for nearly two weeks.
The KNP Complex, two lightning-sparked fires that merged, has spread over more than 39 square miles, feeding on other types of trees that also live on the high-elevation slopes of the mountain range.
Giant Forest is home to about 2,000 sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree, which is considered the world’s largest by volume and is a must-see for visitors to the national park.
For decades, Giant Forest has been subjected to prescribed fires that are carefully set and controlled to burn away vegetation that could otherwise become fuel for a fire like the KNP Complex and allow it to become established.
The Gateway Restaurant and Lodge is an iconic landmark located in Three Rivers within the evacuation zone. Though they are closed to the public, owner Glen McIntyre has decided to remain open, not to the public, but to fire crews passing through Three Rivers assisting in the fire fighting effort.
“I just want to make sure they have a comfortable place to stay and eat, we feed them ribs, pizza, chicken, so they’re getting a good square meal after a long day,” says McIntyre.
At this point, residents and businesses in the evacuation zones do not know when it will lifted as fire crews are working to contain the blaze day by day.