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Will wildfires threaten California's ancient sequoias?

California firefighters are taking extra precautions to protect sequoia groves from the wildfires ravaging the state.

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    Smoke rises from a fire near Butte Mountain Road, Thursday Sept. 10, 2015, near Jackson, Calif. Lions, tigers and other cats big and small are being evacuated as California's biggest wildfire continues to spread, possibly threatening the park where they live, officials said Thursday.
    Andrew Seng/The Sacramento Bee/AP
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Firefighters in Central California worry that an ancient grove of giant sequoia trees might be endangered by the state’s largest wildfire.

Grant Grove, a sequoia grove named after the General Grant tree that stands at 268 feet, is under threat by the large wildfire sweeping across Central California. The blaze is less than 5 miles away and firefighters have begun taking precautions for the grove.

Firefighters are clearing lines with bulldozers around  Grant Grove and putting up sprinklers, according to Andy Isolano, a spokesman for the Clovis Fire Department.

Mr. Isolano said the trees can survive a fire, but due to increased stress from the drought, firefighters aren’t taking any chances. The wildfire flames are fast moving and closing in on the grove. It has already charred 172 square miles and is not fully contained. 

There are many sequoia groves in the area, and, so far at least, they have been weathering the historic drought that has gripped the state for several years fairly well, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Besides the Sequoia groves, lions, tigers, and other cats at the Cat Haven sanctuary have been evacuated as wildfire approaches, officials said. The fire has been burning in the area for nearly six weeks and the cat sanctuary is closing its doors temporarily.

Three dozen of the wild cats will be moved from the 100-acre site. Many are slated to go south to the Los Angeles area, according to a KFSN report.

California has been contending with multiple wildfires.

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A blaze near Yosemite Valley reached a size of 500 acres. Smoke was visible throughout the park, spokesman Scott Gediman said. Multiple trails were closed to the hikers. The cause of the fires are still being investigated.

In Amador County in Northern California a wildfire grew dramatically in size. So far it has destroyed six homes and evacuations remained in place on Thursday, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention officials told the AP. It has spread to Calaveras County, but is about 20 percent contained.

A fire in Orange County that burned 80 acres, came close to residential neighborhoods, and injured two firefighters is contained. Paul Munoz of Fullerton, is being charged with negligently causing a fire with injuries. Two firefighters were injured battling that blaze.

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

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