Sequoia National Park’s ‘Four Guardsmen’ trees protected from fire

The KNP Complex fire began as two lightning-sparked fires that eventually merged

The Four Guardsmen, a group of trees forming a natural entryway to the Giant Forest in California's Sequoia National Park, have successfully been protected from a wildfire now devastating parts of the state, authorities said.

The firefighting management team said Sunday that the trees were spared from the KNP Complex fire by the removal of nearby vegetation and by wrapping fire-resistant material around the bases of the trees.

A helicopter drops water on the Windy Fire burning in the Trail of 100 Giants grove of Sequoia National Forest, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021.

A helicopter drops water on the Windy Fire burning in the Trail of 100 Giants grove of Sequoia National Forest, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. (AP)

The KNP Complex fire began as two lightning-sparked fires that eventually merged and has scorched nearly 40 square miles in the heart of sequoia country on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada.

There was no immediate word, however, on the full extent of damage in several other sequoia groves reached by a separate blaze, the Windy Fire, in the Giant Sequoia National Monument area of Sequoia National Forest and the Tule River Indian Reservation.

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The KNP Complex fire forced the evacuation of Sequoia National Park last week, and on Sunday much of adjacent Kings Canyon National Park was closed. Authorities warned those who visited areas that were still open about the dangers of hazardous air quality due to smoke.

A large area of Northern California was under a red flag warning for extreme fire danger Monday due to dry offshore winds that can raise fire danger. 

The warning did not extend into Southern California, but forecasters said there would be weak Santa Ana winds and significant warming — elevating the risk of wildfires.

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More than 7,000 wildfires in California this year have damaged or destroyed more than 3,000 homes and other buildings and torched well over 3,000 square miles of land, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The Associated Press contributed to this report