Washburn Fire Update – Mariposa Grove

The fire has grown to 2,340 acres as of this morning, July 11, according to the NPS via Inciweb. “Fuels Involved: Timber and Brush – Mostly high load conifer litter (TL5) with heavy dead and down component as well as substantial standing dead.”

“The fire is burning in difficult terrain with continuous heavy fuels in and around the fire.  Significant tree mortality from 2013 – 2015 has left dead standing and dead fallen fuels.  This also presents significant safety hazards to firefighters.  Fire scars from past fires located approximately one to three miles from the current fire perimeter will assist firefighters in slowing the growth of the fire.  Firefighters will continue going direct when safe and will scout and prepare indirect lines.

“The fire was active overnight. Today is expected to be hotter and drier than yesterday, with similar fire behavior. The Park Service and Firefighters are proactively protecting the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias. While structure wrap is not being used on the sequoias themselves, additional methods are being used including the removal of heavy and fine fuels around the trees and deploying ground-based sprinkler systems to increase humidity near the trees. Fortunately, the Mariposa Grove has a long history of prescribed burning and studies have shown that these efforts reduce the impacts of high-severity unwanted fire.”

7 thoughts on “Washburn Fire Update – Mariposa Grove”

  1. It seems they are using this fire to further reduce the fuel loads. It is already over 2,000 acres. I hope not to many giant sequoias we are lost.

  2. This fire is a perfect one to analyze, so far. Burning in heavy fuels, in difficult terrain, in pristine old-growth forests, with negligible winds (outside of the fire-generated winds). Eco-groups like to say that fuels aren’t much of an issue, if the (outside) winds aren’t blowing. They insist that old-growth forests reduce fire intensity, by limiting air flow. It’s not looking good for those forests, especially if the ‘outside’ winds pick up. There are also the daily up-canyon, and down-slope air flows, in the canyons.

    Not surprisingly, California Congressman McClintock proposed “active forest management” (including commercial thinning) for Yosemite National Park, even before the Washburn Fire started. In the past, he also proposed widespread salvage logging in the Park, without environmental rules. He doesn’t understand the mission of the National Park Service.

  3. Sad that just a few days before this fire several environmental groups convinced a judge that the logging being done in the park to remove dead trees and fuel ladders was a threat to the park!

  4. 7/12/2022: 3220 acres.

    Fuels: Heavy accumulations of available dead surface fuels with ample snags and concentrations in an old-growth forest condition. Fuels are primarily large timber with an understory of young conifer and shrubs. Very deep duff and accumulation of timber litter (branchwood and needles) dominate the forest floor.

    Recent large fire scars in the area include woody materials and recent shrub growth

    Significant Events: Moderate Fire Behavior Observed, including Long-range Spotting, Group Torching and Backing.

    • Also of note is the reduction of firefighting personnel, from the day before. I’m sure that only portions of the fire are being fought, with fire inside the park mostly ‘free-ranging’. The results should be very … ‘interesting’. Yosemite is a great fire laboratory, showing us the results of various fire management ‘ideas’.

  5. News article: “Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove will survive Washburn Fire, says park’s forest ecologist.”


    With the Washburn Fire at 25% containment as of Monday, the famous giant sequoias of Yosemite National Park’s Mariposa Grove have seemingly been spared the worst, according to Yosemite forest ecologist and firefighter Garrett Dickman. And while the trees aren’t entirely out of the woods yet, so to speak, Dickman told SFGATE he’s optimistic that the beloved giants are poised to survive.

    What’s saved these trees, Dickman said, is simple: fuel reduction treatments.

    “The really obvious takeaway is we’ve been preparing for this fire for 50 years. And that preparation is saving these trees,” he said. “We haven’t had to wrap trees or really put firefighters at tremendous risk. They’ve been able to engage safely because those fuel reduction treatments have proven to be so effective.”

  6. NPR News today:

    Decades of ‘good fires’ save Yosemite’s iconic grove of ancient sequoia trees



    The Washburn Fire is more than 50% contained and officials said Sunday that residents of the mountain community of Wawona could begin returning to their homes.

    But it took more than the hard work of wildland firefighters, luck or a shift in the wind to protect the majestic trees in the Mariposa Grove, many of them 2,000 years old with several including the Grizzly Giant well over 3,000 years.

    Instead, foresters and ecologists say a half-century of intentional burning or ”prescribed fire” practices in and around the area dramatically reduced forest ”fuel” there, allowing the blaze to pass through the grove with the trees unscathed.

    The Washburn Fire is driven by dry, built-up forest fuel. But when the blaze swept into Mariposa Grove, the biggest and best known of the park’s three old-growth sequoia clusters, it ran smack into the area of the most recent prescribed fire, slowing its advance and ferocity.

    Once it hit that area, “the fire intensity decreased dramatically, rate of spread decreased, and firefighters were able to rapidly engage and start immediately putting in hand line and hose lays and kind of steer the fire around the grove,” ecologist Dickman says.


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