from Kaweah Commonwealth August 28, 2009 issue
“For some folks seeing or just knowing that a giant sequoia has fire in its crown and its limbs are crashing to the forest floor below is enough to evoke tears of sadness and stir deep emotions. To witness the death of one these majestic monarchs is a tragedy nobody who witnesses it will ever forget.
So this week, when it was discovered that a giant sequoia, perhaps thousands of years old, was engulfed in flame as a result of a prescribed burn near Crescent Meadow, there were several calls to the Commonwealth voicing a collective plea to look into this latest burning of another Big Tree.
Since the accidental burning of the Washington Tree in 2003 during a prescribed fire, then listed as the second largest tree in the world, park policy on the protection of named trees is very specific.
‘We protect named trees from fire unless it is a safety issue,’ said Deb Schweizer, parks fire education specialist. ‘Apparently, the tree in question was an unnamed monarch that already had a structural weakness that allowed fire easily to get in.’
Deb explained that like all organic things, these trees die as a part of the life cycle and during their lifetimes are changed by natural processes including fire.
‘Fire has created several trees that visitors love to see like Tharp’s Log, the Chimney Tree, and Tunnel Log to name a few examples,’Deb said. ‘This process is continuing now and will create the next generation of hollowed trees that attract visitors.’
The recent burning near Crescent Meadow was the aftermath of a 64-acre prescribed burn that was ignited the first week of August. Fires of this size and scope generally are permitted to creep and smolder in the forest until they are doused by an extended period of precipitation.”
note from blog editor: On August 20, I personally witnessed this Sequoia tree on fire with huge flames coming out its crown, large smoke plumes and large pieces of the tree falling to the ground. Loud cracks and pops could be heard throughout Crescent Meadow. It was a stunning site…