California’s 2020 Castle Fire Is Still Burning


A single burning giant sequoia in Board Camp Grove from the 2020 Castle Fire in the southwestern area of Sequoia National Park. National Park Service / Tony Caprio

A giant sequoia is still smoldering after last year’s Castle Fire, an illustration of the severity of last year’s fire season and an indication of California’s drought, The Associated Press reports.

Though giant sequoias have historically been resilient to wildfire, the Castle Fire was so severe it likely killed more than 1,000 of the trees including many that had stood for more than 1,000 years. Climate change is making droughts more likely to occur, and more severe when they do, and thus makes wildfires more extreme as forests and other fuels sources are turned into proverbial tinder boxes.

“The fact areas are still smoldering and smoking from the 2020 Castle Fire demonstrates how dry the park is,” Leif Mathiesen, assistant fire management officer for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, told The Associated Press. California’s current severe and extreme drought conditions covering the Sierra Nevada mountains set a dire stage for the upcoming wildfire season.

As reported by The Associated Press:

According to AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dave Samuhel, fires are projected to burn 14,844 square miles (38,445 square kilometers) of land across the Western U.S.

“Unfortunately, in a nutshell, it looks like it’s going to be another busy season,” he said in a statement. “We’re seeing a lot of drought. Almost half of the country is experiencing drought, and the bulk of that is to the West.”

For a deeper dive:

The Associated Press; Climate Signals background: Drought, Wildfires

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