California firefighters make progress on Yosemite wildfire threatening sequoias

The Washburn Fire has forced evacuations

Firefighters in California have reportedly made progress on the Washburn Fire, which is threatening giant sequoias and a small community in Yosemite National Park. 

The wildfire has spread over 2,340 acres and is 25% contained.

There are 545 personnel assigned to the fire.

The flames have posed a danger to the more than 500 mature sequoias in the park's Mariposa Grove. 

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In this image released by the National Park Service, smoke rises from the Washburn Fire near the lower portion of the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park, Calif., Friday, July 8, 2022. 

In this image released by the National Park Service, smoke rises from the Washburn Fire near the lower portion of the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park, Calif., Friday, July 8, 2022.  (National Park Service via AP)

The large mid-elevation basin of Wawona has been evacuated, and the southern are was closed to visitors. 

There were no reports of severe damage to any named trees in Mariposa Grove. 

A firefighter protects a sequoia tree as the Washburn Fire burns in Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Friday, July 8, 2022. 

A firefighter protects a sequoia tree as the Washburn Fire burns in Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Friday, July 8, 2022.  (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

The grove is being protected by a sprinkler system and has a lengthy history of prescribed burning.

In addition, according to Yosemite Fire and Aviation, crews on the Washburn Fire used offensive firing to speed up the creation of a control line.

The Washburn Fire burns on a hillside in Yosemite National Park, Calif., Saturday, July 9, 2022. 

The Washburn Fire burns on a hillside in Yosemite National Park, Calif., Saturday, July 9, 2022.  (Stephen Lam/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

Control line is an inclusive term for all constructed or natural barriers and treated fire edges used to control a fire.

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The Washburn Fire burns in Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Friday, July 8, 2022. 

The Washburn Fire burns in Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Friday, July 8, 2022.  (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

According to the National Park Service, lack of frequent fire in most sequoia groves combined with a warming climate have made wildfires more deadly for the trees. 

More than 85% of all giant sequoia grove acreage across the Sierra Nevada has burned in wildfires between 2015 and 2021, compared with only one quarter in the preceding century. 

Viewed from Oakhurst in Madera County, Calif., a plume rises from the Washburn Fire burning in Yosemite National Park on Friday, July 8, 2022. 

Viewed from Oakhurst in Madera County, Calif., a plume rises from the Washburn Fire burning in Yosemite National Park on Friday, July 8, 2022.  (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

There was no obvious natural spark for the fire that broke out Thursday next to the park's Washburn Trail.

A heat advisory was issued for the Central Valley below the Sierra Nevada. 

In this photo provided by the National Park Service, the Washburn Fire burns next to a roadway north of the Wawona Hotel in Yosemite National Park, Calif., Monday, July 11, 2022. 

In this photo provided by the National Park Service, the Washburn Fire burns next to a roadway north of the Wawona Hotel in Yosemite National Park, Calif., Monday, July 11, 2022.  (National Park Service via AP)

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The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reports that there are more than 6,000 wildland firefighters and support personnel assigned to incidents across the country. 

According to the NIFC, the U.S. has seen 35,711 wildfires burn 4,845,026 acres this year. Areas with the most acres burned this year are Alaska, with 2.6 million and the southern area, with more than a million acres.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.