By Miriam Raftery
Photo: General Grant Tree, courtesy National Park Service
September 12, 2015 (Sequoia National Forest)- The fast-moving Rough Fire (#RoughFire) has charred over 128,000 acres and threatens the famed Grant Grove of ancient Sequoia redwood trees in King’s Canyon National Park. The lightning-sparked fire is 29% contained.
The grove includes giant sequoias thousands of years old, notably the General Grant tree, named in 1867 after Ulysses S. Grant and declared our nation’s Christmas tree by President Calvin Coolidge in 1926.
The National Park Service has closed and evacuated the Grant Grove area of King’s Canyon including John Muir Lodge, all campgrounds and the John Muir cabins. The Cedar Grove area and all lodging there are also closed. Those areas will stay closed until at least September 18. Sequoia National Park remains open but a smoke advisory is in effect.
People with reservations are being given the option to move to an alternative location or reschedule their vacations.
The fire has forced road closures and cancellation of several Dark Sky Festivals in the area. More than 2,500 firefighters are battling the blaze, using bulldozers to cut firebreaks in an effort to save one of California’s greatest natural treasures.
For the latest park alerts, see http://www.nps.gov/seki/learn/news/newsreleases.htm
The California Smoke Information website is providing regular updates on current and forecasted air quality for Grant Grove, Lodgepole and Ash Mountain. Look for the Rough Fire Air Quality Report. The National Park Service also maintains a webcam near the Giant Forest.