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California wildfires torch thousands of giant sequoia trees

California wildfires
Flames burn up a tree as part of the Windy Fire in the Trail of 100 Giants grove in Sequoia National Forest, Calif., in September. Sequoia National Park says lightning-sparked wildfires in the past two years have killed a minimum of nearly 10,000 giant sequoia trees in California. The estimate released today, accounts for 13% to 19% of the native sequoias that are the largest trees on Earth. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lightning-sparked wildfires killed thousands of giant sequoias this year, adding to a staggering two-year death toll that accounts for up to nearly a fifth of Earth’s largest trees, officials said today.

Fires in Sequoia National Park and the surrounding national forest that also bears the trees’ name tore through more than a third of groves in California and torched an estimated 2,261 to 3,637 sequoias, which are the largest trees by volume. Fires in the same area last year killed an unprecedented 7,500 to 10,400 of the 75,000 trees that are only native in about 70 groves scattered along the western side of the Sierra Nevada range.

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