Photos: Devastating wildfires threaten world's oldest trees at Yosemite National Park

World's oldest trees at risk
The fire expanded over the weekend
1,600 acres burned by Sunday
Fire started in the Mariposa Grove
The Grove had to be closed
Majestic, ancient trees
Trees that are over 2000 years old
Southern entrance also shut
So much smoke
Unhealthy air
Yosemite Valley is still open
But not the best time to visit
The sequoias are safe for now
Firefighters have saved the beautiful trees
Working around the clock
Officials are confident disaster can be averted
World's oldest trees at risk

Some of the world's oldest sequoia trees are in danger in California's Yosemite National Park, which is being scorched by a wildfire.

The fire expanded over the weekend

Over the weekend, the wildfire expanded five-fold, making authorities very nervous about the state of Yosemite Park.

1,600 acres burned by Sunday

By Sunday, the wildfire had burned up almost 1,600 acres or 648 hectares of brush and timber in the park's southern region.

Fire started in the Mariposa Grove

The fire was first reported on Thursday, July 7, on the Washburn Trail of the Mariposa Grove, home of the Giant Sequoias.

By Friday, it had already scorched 250 acres of parkland, and the adjacent Indigenous community of Wawona was evacuated.

The Grove had to be closed

Once the fire was reported, National Park Service staff immediately closed Mariposa Grove.

Majestic, ancient trees

Mariposa Grove is home to more than 500 giant sequoia trees. The majestic sequoia can grow to more than 250 feet.

Trees that are over 2000 years old

Mariposa grove was founded in 1857 however, the trees existed long before that, with some believed to be more than 2,000 years old.

Southern entrance also shut

According to Park Service spokesperson Nancy Phillipe, the southern entrance to Yosemite has now been shut down, which usually draws 4 million visitors a year.

So much smoke

The volume of smoke caused by the fire has prompted air quality alerts throughout the park and blurred the famous views Yosemite is known for.

Unhealthy air

Federal wildfire officials on Sunday warned that air quality for particulate matter had reached unhealthy levels across much of the park.

Yosemite Valley is still open

Nonetheless, as firefighters do their best to contain the wildfire, Yosemite Valley, one of the park's best-known attractions, remains open to visitors from the western entrance.

But not the best time to visit

However, visitors must put up with soot, smoke, and hazy views of park favorites such as Bridalveil Falls or the Half Dome.

The sequoias are safe for now

According to Phillipe, despite the extremely dry and hot weather, the fire has not yet destroyed any of the ancient sequoias.

Firefighters have saved the beautiful trees
CNN reported that public information officer Robbie Johnson said that the fire "has entered the grove, but the good news is because of prescribed burns and clearing out material on the ground, it's clear in the Mariposa Grove."
Working around the clock

Firefighters have been working around the clock to clear undergrowth and protect the grove, in addition to using a ground-based sprinkler system to dampen the flames.

Officials are confident disaster can be averted

Phillipe told Reuter, "We're feeling confident of the plan we have in place today." At the moment, the cause of the fire is still under investigation, and thus far, officials say that nobody has been injured.

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