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Yosemite takes steps to protect sequoias from fire

  • In this undated photo provided by the U.S. Forest Service, the Rim Fire burns near Yosemite National Park, Calif. The wildfire outside Yosemite National Park — one of more than 50 major brush blazes burning across the western U.S. — more than tripled in size overnight and still threatens about 2,500 homes, hotels and camp buildings. Fire officials said the blaze burning in remote, steep terrain had grown to more than 84 square miles and was only 2 percent contained on Thursday, down from 5 percent a day earlier. (AP Photo/U.S. Forest Service)

    In this undated photo provided by the U.S. Forest Service, the Rim Fire burns near Yosemite National Park, Calif. The wildfire outside Yosemite National Park — one of more than 50 major brush blazes burning across the western U.S. — more than tripled in size overnight and still threatens about 2,500 homes, hotels and camp buildings. Fire officials said the blaze burning in remote, steep terrain had grown to more than 84 square miles and was only 2 percent contained on Thursday, down from 5 percent a day earlier. (AP Photo/U.S. Forest Service)

  • In this undated photo provided by the U.S. Forest Service, the Rim Fire burns near Groveland Ranger Station in Groveland, Calif. The wildfire outside Yosemite National Park — one of more than 50 major brush blazes burning across the western U.S. — more than tripled in size overnight and still threatens about 2,500 homes, hotels and camp buildings. Fire officials said the blaze burning in remote, steep terrain had grown to more than 84 square miles and was only 2 percent contained on Thursday, down from 5 percent a day earlier. (AP Photo/U.S. Forest Service)

    In this undated photo provided by the U.S. Forest Service, the Rim Fire burns near Groveland Ranger Station in Groveland, Calif. The wildfire outside Yosemite National Park — one of more than 50 major brush blazes burning across the western U.S. — more than tripled in size overnight and still threatens about 2,500 homes, hotels and camp buildings. Fire officials said the blaze burning in remote, steep terrain had grown to more than 84 square miles and was only 2 percent contained on Thursday, down from 5 percent a day earlier. (AP Photo/U.S. Forest Service)

  • In this undated photo provided by the U.S. Forest Service, the Rim Fire burns near Groveland Ranger Station in Groveland, Calif. The wildfire outside Yosemite National Park — one of more than 50 major brush blazes burning across the western U.S. — more than tripled in size overnight and still threatens about 2,500 homes, hotels and camp buildings. Fire officials said the blaze burning in remote, steep terrain had grown to more than 84 square miles and was only 2 percent contained on Thursday, down from 5 percent a day earlier. (AP Photo/U.S. Forest Service)

    In this undated photo provided by the U.S. Forest Service, the Rim Fire burns near Groveland Ranger Station in Groveland, Calif. The wildfire outside Yosemite National Park — one of more than 50 major brush blazes burning across the western U.S. — more than tripled in size overnight and still threatens about 2,500 homes, hotels and camp buildings. Fire officials said the blaze burning in remote, steep terrain had grown to more than 84 square miles and was only 2 percent contained on Thursday, down from 5 percent a day earlier. (AP Photo/U.S. Forest Service)

  • U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., looks at the remains of a Lolo Creek home that was destroyed by the West Fork II fire when it swept down the Lolo Creek canyon, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013 near Lolo, Mont. The fire burned four other homes as well along the U.S. Highway 12 corridor. (AP Photo/Missoulian, Kurt Wilson)

    U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., looks at the remains of a Lolo Creek home that was destroyed by the West Fork II fire when it swept down the Lolo Creek canyon, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013 near Lolo, Mont. The fire burned four other homes as well along the U.S. Highway 12 corridor. (AP Photo/Missoulian, Kurt Wilson)

  • Shawn Woottenn and other members of the Lathrop-Manteca fire department wait in the town of Tuolumne, Calif, Friday Aug. 23, 2013. The town is under advisory evacuation as the Rim Fire grows in size.(AP Photo/The Modesto Bee, Andy Alfaro) NO SALES, NO MGS, NO TV, ONLINE AP MEMBERS ONLY

    Shawn Woottenn and other members of the Lathrop-Manteca fire department wait in the town of Tuolumne, Calif, Friday Aug. 23, 2013. The town is under advisory evacuation as the Rim Fire grows in size.(AP Photo/The Modesto Bee, Andy Alfaro) NO SALES, NO MGS, NO TV, ONLINE AP MEMBERS ONLY

  • Red Cross volunteers Mike Dabkowski of Sonora middle, Brian Clemetson of Murphys, left, and Koya Andrews of Soulsbyville, right, build sleeping cots at the shelter at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora, Calif., with the expectation that residents from Pine Mountain Lake will flee the Rim Fire, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/The Modesto Bee, Andy Alfaro) LOCAL TV OUT (KXTV10, KCRA3, KOVR13, FOX40, KMAX31, KQCA58, CENTRAL VALLEY TV); LOCAL PRINT OUT (TURLOCK JOURNAL, CERES COURIER, OAKDALE LEADER, MODESTO VIEW, PATTERSON IRRIGATOR, MANTECA BULLETIN, RIPON, RECROD, SONORA UNION DEMOCRAT, AMADOR LEDGER DISPATCH, ESCALON TIMES, CALAVERAS ENTERPRISE, RIVERBANKS NEWS) LOCAL INTERNET OUT (TURLOCK CITY NEWS.COM, MOTHER LODE.COM)

    Red Cross volunteers Mike Dabkowski of Sonora middle, Brian Clemetson of Murphys, left, and Koya Andrews of Soulsbyville, right, build sleeping cots at the shelter at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora, Calif., with the expectation that residents from Pine Mountain Lake will flee the Rim Fire, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/The Modesto Bee, Andy Alfaro) LOCAL TV OUT (KXTV10, KCRA3, KOVR13, FOX40, KMAX31, KQCA58, CENTRAL VALLEY TV); LOCAL PRINT OUT (TURLOCK JOURNAL, CERES COURIER, OAKDALE LEADER, MODESTO VIEW, PATTERSON IRRIGATOR, MANTECA BULLETIN, RIPON, RECROD, SONORA UNION DEMOCRAT, AMADOR LEDGER DISPATCH, ESCALON TIMES, CALAVERAS ENTERPRISE, RIVERBANKS NEWS) LOCAL INTERNET OUT (TURLOCK CITY NEWS.COM, MOTHER LODE.COM)

  • Firefighters wait in the town of Tuolumne, Calif, Friday Aug. 23, 2013. The town is under advisory evacuation as the Rim Fire grows in size.(AP Photo/The Modesto Bee, Andy Alfaro) NO SALES, NO MGS, NO TV, ONLINE AP MEMBERS ONLY

    Firefighters wait in the town of Tuolumne, Calif, Friday Aug. 23, 2013. The town is under advisory evacuation as the Rim Fire grows in size.(AP Photo/The Modesto Bee, Andy Alfaro) NO SALES, NO MGS, NO TV, ONLINE AP MEMBERS ONLY

  • Firefighters wait in the town of Tuolumne, Calif, Friday Aug. 23, 2013. The town is under advisory evacuation as the Rim Fire grows in size.(AP Photo/The Modesto Bee, Andy Alfaro) NO SALES, NO MGS, NO TV, ONLINE AP MEMBERS ONLY

    Firefighters wait in the town of Tuolumne, Calif, Friday Aug. 23, 2013. The town is under advisory evacuation as the Rim Fire grows in size.(AP Photo/The Modesto Bee, Andy Alfaro) NO SALES, NO MGS, NO TV, ONLINE AP MEMBERS ONLY

  • In this Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, a road sign warns of the closure of HWY120 on HWY108 due to the Rim Fire in the Stanislaus National Forest. Calif. The remote blaze in Stanislaus National Forest west of Yosemite grew to more than 25 square miles Wednesday, and was only 5 percent contained, threatening homes, hotels and camp buildings.(AP Photo/The Modesto Bee, Andy Alfaro) LOCAL TV OUT (KXTV10, KCRA3, KOVR13, FOX40, KMAX31, KQCA58, CENTRAL VALLEY TV); LOCAL PRINT OUT (TURLOCK JOURNAL, CERES COURIER, OAKDALE LEADER, MODESTO VIEW, PATTERSON IRRIGATOR, MANTECA BULLETIN, RIPON, RECROD, SONORA UNION DEMOCRAT, AMADOR LEDGER DISPATCH, ESCALON TIMES, CALAVERAS ENTERPRISE, RIVERBANKS NEWS) LOCAL INTERNET OUT (TURLOCK CITY NEWS.COM, MOTHER LODE.COM)

    In this Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, a road sign warns of the closure of HWY120 on HWY108 due to the Rim Fire in the Stanislaus National Forest. Calif. The remote blaze in Stanislaus National Forest west of Yosemite grew to more than 25 square miles Wednesday, and was only 5 percent contained, threatening homes, hotels and camp buildings.(AP Photo/The Modesto Bee, Andy Alfaro) LOCAL TV OUT (KXTV10, KCRA3, KOVR13, FOX40, KMAX31, KQCA58, CENTRAL VALLEY TV); LOCAL PRINT OUT (TURLOCK JOURNAL, CERES COURIER, OAKDALE LEADER, MODESTO VIEW, PATTERSON IRRIGATOR, MANTECA BULLETIN, RIPON, RECROD, SONORA UNION DEMOCRAT, AMADOR LEDGER DISPATCH, ESCALON TIMES, CALAVERAS ENTERPRISE, RIVERBANKS NEWS) LOCAL INTERNET OUT (TURLOCK CITY NEWS.COM, MOTHER LODE.COM)

  • Kayla Stanton, right, and Preston Holley, left, pack up belongings for friends as the Rim Fire threatens the small town of Tuolumne, Calif, Friday Aug. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/The Modesto Bee, Andy Alfaro) NO SALES, NO MGS, NO TV, ONLINE AP MEMBERS ONLY

    Kayla Stanton, right, and Preston Holley, left, pack up belongings for friends as the Rim Fire threatens the small town of Tuolumne, Calif, Friday Aug. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/The Modesto Bee, Andy Alfaro) NO SALES, NO MGS, NO TV, ONLINE AP MEMBERS ONLY

  • Kayla Stanton, right, and Preston Holley, left, pack up belongings for friends as the Rim Fire threatens the small town of Tuolumne, Calif, Friday Aug. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/The Modesto Bee, Andy Alfaro) NO SALES, NO MGS, NO TV, ONLINE AP MEMBERS ONLY

    Kayla Stanton, right, and Preston Holley, left, pack up belongings for friends as the Rim Fire threatens the small town of Tuolumne, Calif, Friday Aug. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/The Modesto Bee, Andy Alfaro) NO SALES, NO MGS, NO TV, ONLINE AP MEMBERS ONLY

  • In this undated photo provided by the U.S. Forest Service, the Rim Fire burns near Yosemite National Park, Calif. The wildfire outside Yosemite National Park — one of more than 50 major brush blazes burning across the western U.S. — more than tripled in size overnight and still threatens about 2,500 homes, hotels and camp buildings. Fire officials said the blaze burning in remote, steep terrain had grown to more than 84 square miles and was only 2 percent contained on Thursday, down from 5 percent a day earlier. (AP Photo/U.S. Forest Service)
  • In this undated photo provided by the U.S. Forest Service, the Rim Fire burns near Groveland Ranger Station in Groveland, Calif. The wildfire outside Yosemite National Park — one of more than 50 major brush blazes burning across the western U.S. — more than tripled in size overnight and still threatens about 2,500 homes, hotels and camp buildings. Fire officials said the blaze burning in remote, steep terrain had grown to more than 84 square miles and was only 2 percent contained on Thursday, down from 5 percent a day earlier. (AP Photo/U.S. Forest Service)
  • In this undated photo provided by the U.S. Forest Service, the Rim Fire burns near Groveland Ranger Station in Groveland, Calif. The wildfire outside Yosemite National Park — one of more than 50 major brush blazes burning across the western U.S. — more than tripled in size overnight and still threatens about 2,500 homes, hotels and camp buildings. Fire officials said the blaze burning in remote, steep terrain had grown to more than 84 square miles and was only 2 percent contained on Thursday, down from 5 percent a day earlier. (AP Photo/U.S. Forest Service)
  • U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., looks at the remains of a Lolo Creek home that was destroyed by the West Fork II fire when it swept down the Lolo Creek canyon, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013 near Lolo, Mont. The fire burned four other homes as well along the U.S. Highway 12 corridor. (AP Photo/Missoulian, Kurt Wilson)
  • Shawn Woottenn and other members of the Lathrop-Manteca fire department wait in the town of Tuolumne, Calif, Friday Aug. 23, 2013. The town is under advisory evacuation as the Rim Fire grows in size.(AP Photo/The Modesto Bee, Andy Alfaro) NO SALES, NO MGS, NO TV, ONLINE AP MEMBERS ONLY
  • Red Cross volunteers Mike Dabkowski of Sonora middle, Brian Clemetson of Murphys, left, and Koya Andrews of Soulsbyville, right, build sleeping cots at the shelter at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora, Calif., with the expectation that residents from Pine Mountain Lake will flee the Rim Fire, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/The Modesto Bee, Andy Alfaro) LOCAL TV OUT (KXTV10, KCRA3, KOVR13, FOX40, KMAX31, KQCA58, CENTRAL VALLEY TV); LOCAL PRINT OUT (TURLOCK JOURNAL, CERES COURIER, OAKDALE LEADER, MODESTO VIEW, PATTERSON IRRIGATOR, MANTECA BULLETIN, RIPON, RECROD, SONORA UNION DEMOCRAT, AMADOR LEDGER DISPATCH, ESCALON TIMES, CALAVERAS ENTERPRISE, RIVERBANKS NEWS) LOCAL INTERNET OUT (TURLOCK CITY NEWS.COM, MOTHER LODE.COM)
  • Firefighters wait in the town of Tuolumne, Calif, Friday Aug. 23, 2013. The town is under advisory evacuation as the Rim Fire grows in size.(AP Photo/The Modesto Bee, Andy Alfaro) NO SALES, NO MGS, NO TV, ONLINE AP MEMBERS ONLY
  • Firefighters wait in the town of Tuolumne, Calif, Friday Aug. 23, 2013. The town is under advisory evacuation as the Rim Fire grows in size.(AP Photo/The Modesto Bee, Andy Alfaro) NO SALES, NO MGS, NO TV, ONLINE AP MEMBERS ONLY
  • In this Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, a road sign warns of the closure of HWY120 on HWY108 due to the Rim Fire in the Stanislaus National Forest. Calif. The remote blaze in Stanislaus National Forest west of Yosemite grew to more than 25 square miles Wednesday, and was only 5 percent contained, threatening homes, hotels and camp buildings.(AP Photo/The Modesto Bee, Andy Alfaro) LOCAL TV OUT (KXTV10, KCRA3, KOVR13, FOX40, KMAX31, KQCA58, CENTRAL VALLEY TV); LOCAL PRINT OUT (TURLOCK JOURNAL, CERES COURIER, OAKDALE LEADER, MODESTO VIEW, PATTERSON IRRIGATOR, MANTECA BULLETIN, RIPON, RECROD, SONORA UNION DEMOCRAT, AMADOR LEDGER DISPATCH, ESCALON TIMES, CALAVERAS ENTERPRISE, RIVERBANKS NEWS) LOCAL INTERNET OUT (TURLOCK CITY NEWS.COM, MOTHER LODE.COM)
  • Kayla Stanton, right, and Preston Holley, left, pack up belongings for friends as the Rim Fire threatens the small town of Tuolumne, Calif, Friday Aug. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/The Modesto Bee, Andy Alfaro) NO SALES, NO MGS, NO TV, ONLINE AP MEMBERS ONLY
  • Kayla Stanton, right, and Preston Holley, left, pack up belongings for friends as the Rim Fire threatens the small town of Tuolumne, Calif, Friday Aug. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/The Modesto Bee, Andy Alfaro) NO SALES, NO MGS, NO TV, ONLINE AP MEMBERS ONLY

As a wildfire rages along the remote northwest edge of Yosemite National Park, officials cleared brush and set sprinklers to protect two groves of giant sequoias.

The iconic trees can resist fire, but dry conditions and heavy brush are forcing park officials to take extra precautions in the Tuolumne and Merced groves. About three dozen of the giant trees are affected.

“All of the plants and trees in Yosemite are important, but the giant sequoias are incredibly important both for what they are and as symbols of the National Park System,” said spokesman Scott Gediman.

The trees grow naturally only on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada and are among the largest and oldest living things on earth.

The Tuolumne and Merced groves in are in the north end of the park near Crane Flat. While the Rim Fire is still some distance away, park employees and trail crews are not taking any chances.

“We’re not looking at them as any kind of immediate threat, but we’re taking precautions,” Gediman said.

More than 5,500 homes were threatened, and four were destroyed. Voluntary and mandatory evacuations have been ordered.

The fire has been burning for a week. The cause is under investigation.

The fire held steady overnight at nearly 200 square miles along the park’s northern border, but a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said firefighters didn’t get their usual reprieve from cooler early morning temperatures yesterday.

“This morning we are starting to see fire activity pick up earlier than it has the last several days,” said Daniel Berlant. “Typically, it doesn’t really heat up until early afternoon. We could continue to see this fire burn very rapidly today.”

The Rim Fire started in a remote canyon of the Stanislaus National Forest a week ago and is just 5 percent contained.

The fire has grown so large and is burning dry timber and brush with such ferocity that it has created its own weather pattern, making it difficult to predict in which direction it will move.

“As the smoke column builds up it breaks down and collapses inside of itself, sending downdrafts and gusts that can go in any direction,” Berlant said. “There’s a lot of potential for this one to continue to grow.”

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