A California fire killed at least 10% of the world’s giant sequoia trees according to a draft study, AP News reported.

The Visalia Times-Delta newspaper got a copy of the report prepared by scientists with the National Park Service. The Castle Fire, which decimated the southern Sierra Nevada in 2020, was responsible for the damage that included 273 square miles of Sequoia National Park.

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“I cannot overemphasize how mind-blowing this is for all of us. These trees have lived for thousands of years. They’ve survived dozens of wildfires already,” said Christy Brigham, chief of resources management and science at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Scientists found that between 7,500 and 10,000 of the threes died in the fire. The damage is equal to between 10 and 14% of the world’s giant mature sequoia population.

Even for the resilient trees that have survived hundreds of years and fires, the Castle Fire proved too much. “One-hundred years of fire suppression, combined with climate change-driven hotter droughts, have changed how fires burn in the southern Sierra and that change has been very bad for sequoia,” Brigham said.

Read more about how climate change and fires are related.

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