Photos document the fight to save the world’s largest trees

Ed Christopher, deputy fire director at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, looks over the Four Guardsmen at the entrance to General Sherman at Sequoia National Park, California, Sept. 22, 2021.

Gary Kazanjian | AFP | Getty Images

Last week, fires began burning out of control in steep canyons near California’s Sequoia National Park, which contains some of the world’s largest trees as measured by volume. As the flames approached, park officials wrapped the bases of some trees in fireproof aluminum blankets to protect the giants. By Monday, the flames had mostly passed by the biggest trees, although the blankets were probably less important to their salvation than the controlled burns the park has done in recent years, a park official told SFGate.

Here’s a look back at the fight to protect the trees in Sequoia:

Protecting an icon

Firefighters cover a sign carved from sequoia wood at an entrance to Sequoia National Park, Sept. 17, 2021.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National | via Reuters

A tree aflame

Flames lick up a tree as the Windy Fire burns in the Trail of 100 Giants grove in Sequoia National Forest in California, Sept. 19, 2021.

Noah Berger | AP

Photographing the giants

A photographer takes pictures at the base of giant sequoia trees in the Lost Grove along Generals Highway north of Red Fir during a media tour of the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Park in California on Sept. 17, 2021.

Patrick T. Fallon | AFP | Getty Images

A memory captured

Firefighters from Orange County take photos as the Windy Fire burns in Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, Sept. 21, 2021.

David Swanon | Reuters

Holding the line

Firefighters spray water as flames push toward a road during the Windy Fire in the Sequoia National Forest near Johnsondale, California, on Sept. 22, 2021.

Patrick T. Fallon | AFP | Getty Images

Guarding the Four Guardsmen

Ed Christopher, deputy fire director at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, looks over the Four Guardsmen at the entrance to General Sherman at Sequoia National Park, Sept. 22, 2021.

Gary Kazanjian | AFP | Getty Images

The forest ablaze

A firefighter with Alaska’s Pioneer Peak Interagency Hotshot Crew carries a chain saw as the Windy Fire burns in the Sequoia National Forest near Johnsondale, California, on Sept. 22, 2021.

Patrick T. Fallon | AFP | Getty Images

Saving General Sherman, the world’s largest tree

Operations Section Chief Jon Wallace looks over General Sherman, the world’s largest tree, which was protected by structure wrap from fires at Sequoia National Park, Sept. 22, 2021.

Gary Kazanjian | AFP | Getty Images

Controlling the burn

Firefighters work to control the Windy Fire as trees burn in the Sequoia National Forest near Johnsondale, California, on Sept. 22, 2021.

Patrick T. Fallon | AFP | Getty Images

Checking residual heat

Ed Christopher, deputy fire director at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, checks the residual heat near the Four Guardsmen at Sequoia National Park, Sept. 22, 2021.

Gary Kazanjian | AFP | Getty Images

A blaze in the night

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees near the Trail of 100 Giants overnight in Sequoia National Park, near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 21, 2021.

David McNew | Getty Images

A warning of danger

A huge tree is marked unsafe by firefighters as the Windy Fire burns in Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, Sept. 21, 2021.

David Swanson | Reuters

Working through the smoke

Firefighters battle the Windy Fire as it burns in the Trail of 100 Giants grove of Sequoia National Forest on Sept. 19, 2021.

Noah Berger | AP

Watching the flames

A firefighter watches flame and smoke rise into the air as trees burn during the Windy Fire in the Sequoia National Forest near Johnsondale, California, on Sept. 22, 2021.

Patrick T. Fallon | AFP | Getty Images

General Sherman survives

The historic General Sherman tree, which was saved from fires, is seen at Sequoia National Park, California, Sept. 22, 2021.

Gary Kazanjian | AFP | Getty Images