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Fire burning in canopy at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

Lathrop Leonard, CDPRTwo firefighters stand in front of a black, fire-charred large redwood trunk with blackened fallen branches at its base. In the background a powerful stream of water arcs from a water truck to high up in the trees.
NPS photoA helicopter drops water on a canopy fire burning in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.
Lathrop Leonard, CDPRTwo firefighters wearing yellow hardhats and shirts stand in front of a black, fire-charred large redwood trunk with blackened fallen branches at its base. In the background a powerful stream of water arcs from a water truck to high up in the trees.

Due to a fire burning in the canopy of several redwood trees in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Howland Hill Road is closed at the west gate (adjacent to Crescent City), according to a series of Facebook posts this week from Redwood National and State Parks officials.

As of Thursday morning, fire continued to burn in the canopy of three coast redwood trees — a reduction from six earlier in the week. The fire was about 1-1/2 acres. Sprinklers set up in the tree canopies poured 10,000 gallons of water on the fire Wednesday, officials said.

Howland Hill Road was open on its east end, near the town of Hiouchi, up to the Boy Scout Tree Trail. The seasonal footbridge across the river connecting Stout Grove and the Jedediah Smith State Park campground remained open, the National Park Service said Wednesday, but all visitors were advised to avoid the area and to be respectful of fire and response crews.

Using canopy firefighting techniques developed by California State Parks in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, fire management staff are able to rig the burning trees with sprinkler systems, the NPS reported.

“Crews, climbing to over 100 feet, spray the hard-to-reach flames and set up sprinkler systems to be left in the trees until the fire is confirmed to be extinguished, a post said. Conventional firefighting methods would have required these redwoods to be cut down, but with the ability to fight fire in the canopy, California State Parks can allow these trees to grow for centuries more,” the agency said.

“As much as thinking about fire in old-growth redwood tress can be hard to imagine, redwood trees are actually quite resilient to fire, and have built-in adaptations that have helped them to survive fires for thousands of years,” the agency said.