A huge ‘out of control’ fire has spread through the Yosemite National Park in California.
Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for a nearby communities and campgrounds, with nearby highways closed.
No injuries have been reported so far, but flames are getting dangerously close to an area called Mariposa Grove.
The area is home to 500 sequoias trees, which are a huge draw for tourists and visitors to the park.
Native in only about 70 groves spread along California’s Sierra Nevada range, the ancient trees were once considered impervious to flames.
But lightning-sparked wildfires over the past two years have killed up around 20% of the tree’s worldwide population.
In Yosemite, firefighters are using air units to try douse the flames from above.
Meanwhile teams on the ground have scrambled to wrap the sequoias trees in a fire-resistant foil to protect them.
The wildfire is said to be ‘out of control’ as it spreads through the national park.
The cause is under investigation and the most of the park remains open as nearly 300 firefighters try to control the flames.
Nancy Phillipe, a Yosemite fire information spokeswoman, said there was no obvious natural spark for the fire that broke out on Thursday next to the park’s Washburn Trail.
‘There is some torching, but we’re not seeing that on the named trees that’s been reported yet,’ she told reporters.
She added: ‘Our priorities are certainly the giant sequoias and the community of Wawona.
‘We’re really hitting it hard, as much as we can.’
Smoke from the fire was initially reported by visitors walking in the grove, which reopened in 2018 after a 40 million US dollars renovation that took three years.
The grove, which is inside the park’s southern entrance, was evacuated and no-one was injured.
The fire had grown to 466 acres by Friday evening, authorities said.
Wildfires are getting increasingly prevalent across America’s wilderness.
This time last year, a wildfire in Yosemite ripped through more than 9,000 acres in just 48 hours.
Thousands of people were forced to flee their homes because of the fire, with mandatory evacuations again in place in Mariposa.
California’s Fire department had said in a statement: ‘While wildfires are a natural part of California’s landscape, the fire season in California and across the West is starting earlier and ending later each year.
‘Climate change is considered a key driver of this trend.’
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