The York Fire has burned more than 80,000 acres.

Joshua trees burned by York’s fire across the Mojave Desert in California and Nevada


A wildfire raging in the desert in California and southern Nevada has scorched tens of thousands of acres in a national biodiversity reserve and burned down the famous Joshua trees.

the York Fire Fire officials said the largest fire in California this year had burned more than 82,000 acres as of Wednesday morning. It started Friday in the New York mountains of California’s Mojave National Reservation and crossed the state border into Nevada on Sunday.

Fires blaze and threaten groves of Joshua trees—the thorny, branching plants of the Mojave Desert that can live more than 150 years.

Some trees have already fallen victim to the fire and burned, Mark Peebles, a spokesman for the California Fire Incident Management Team, confirmed to CNN on Wednesday.

The Mojave National Preserve is such an important biodiversity hotspot that one conservationist called it the “crown jewel” of the Southern California deserts. Joshua trees are just growing In the desert southwest and far northwestern MexicoCody Hanford, executive director of the Mojave Desert Land Trust, told CNN that one of the densest Joshua tree forests is within the burn area.

“We’re looking at dismal results for potentially millions of Joshua trees,” Hanford said. “The fire greatly affects the vegetation landscape.”

A spokesman for the Mojave Preserve said it was not clear exactly how many Joshua trees and other plant and animal life were lost to the fire. The reserve’s rangers will conduct aerial and ground surveys once the fire is extinguished to determine the full extent of the damage.

When the fire first broke out, the cause of the fire was the extreme conditions that generated the fire’s whirlpools The flames are 20 feet Which made it dangerous and difficult to control.

Now, after a few rounds of rain hit the area from Monday night into Wednesday morning, firefighters were able to make progress along the boundaries of the fire and it was 30% contained as of Wednesday morning.

But the damage to the landscape will continue long after the flames have been put out.

“It will take a lifetime to restore Joshua trees to maturity,” said Laura Cunningham, director of the California Research Center. Western Watershed Projecthe told CNN affiliate KVVU. “Some are fire-resistant, and if the flames aren’t too hot, they will sprout or sprout again.”

“This is absolutely devastating,” Cunningham said.

Mojave National Park fire officials said the Mojave National Park has seen an increase in the frequency of fires over the past decade due to a combination of wet winters and increased levels of invasive weeds. InswebUS fire information clearinghouse.

“If an area with Joshua trees burns, most of them cannot survive and it becomes much more difficult to reproduce in that area.” National Park Service He says. “Wildfires may also result in the loss of irreplaceable park resources, such as historic structures and cultural artifacts.”

A tanker drops fire retardant over the York Fire in the Mojave National Preserve on Saturday.

In 2020, a wildfire raged 43,273 acres in the Joshua Tree Forest in Sima Dume, California, destroying up to 1.3 million Joshua trees and leaving behind a vegetation graveyard, according to National Park Service.

The firefighters braving the sweltering desert heat to stop the spread of the York Fire in the Mojave National Park are among more than 11,000 firefighters and staff across the country. National Interagency Fire Center He said Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the center said that 67 active major fires are burning in 11 states as hot, dry conditions continue across the United States. The center said more than 1.1 million acres had burned across the United States in 2023 as of Tuesday.

Firefighters were helped by a brief downpour early Tuesday and more rain on Wednesday as they worked to contain the York Fire.

The Mojave National Park said rains in the Mojave Desert, which are seasonal and rare, “present a unique challenge for firefighters.”

Source: CNN
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How are “firenados” formed?

Desert tortoises — federally listed as an endangered species — become especially active on humid summer days, emerging from their burrows to drink rainwater.

“Fire crews are keen to balance putting out fires and protecting resources. They will be on the lookout for desert tortoises, making sure to avoid burrows and active individuals,” Mojave National Park said.

The good news is that most desert wildebeest can move to safety when a fire approaches, park officials said.

“Resource staff at the Mojave National Preserve expects the York Fire to have caused minimal damage to critical turtle habitat and likely impacted a small number of individuals since observations of turtles in the fire area are rare,” said reserve staff.

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