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Firefighters are trying to keep sequoias around through their 3,000th birthdays. Here’s how.

With some standing taller than the Statue of Liberty, sequoias are not only some of the largest trees in the world but also some of the most ancient.

Their impressive height make them a natural wonder at the slopes of the Sierra Nevada — the only place in the world where they grow.

Flames burn up a tree in the Trail of 100 Giants grove in Sequoia National Forest in California on Sept. 19.

Noah Berger/AP

Noah Berger/AP

Infernos last year wiped out what officials described as an unprecedented amount of these giant trees.

Now the KNP Complex Fire — a web of blazes formed by the Colony and Paradise Fires — is once again threatening the sequoias, underscoring how the increasing intensity of wildfires, coupled with drought and the effects of climate change, have begun to take a toll.

Noah Berger/AP

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

David McNew/Getty Images

David McNew/Getty Images

Having scorched over 49,000 acres since it began Sept. 9, the fire spurred firefighters and people alike to protect a species of tree that has been deeply enmeshed in the country’s history.

David McNew/Getty Images

Trees burn in the Sequoia National Forest on Sept. 22.

AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

Sequoias, which can live to be about 3,000 years old, had been known by the Native American tribes that inhabited the Sierra Nevada.

But a hunter’s serendipitous encounter with a grove during the Gold Rush led them to become a national icon — attracting visitors, scientists and environmentalists alike since the mid-19th century.

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A giant sequoia in Sequoia National Park in 1948.

“Every ranger has a giant sequoia cone on their belt and the trees are also the emblem of the National Park Service,” ​​said Savannah Boiano, executive director of the park’s nonprofit partner, the Sequoia Parks Conservancy. “They’re part of our national story.”

Visitors at Calaveras Big Trees State Park in 1969.

Ernest K. Bennett/AP

Ernest K. Bennett/AP

With their thick and air-pocket-filled bark, sequoias are not only built to resist fires, but they also need them for their species’ survival. The blazes burn competing plants and dry out the cones until they are able to release their seeds.

Ernest K. Bennett/AP

Firefighters battle the Windy Fire in the Trail of 100 Giants grove on Sept. 19.

Noah Berger/AP

Noah Berger/AP

Scientists have discovered that fire is one of the best strategies to protect sequoias. The key is to do so in a methodical and low-intensity manner with prescribed fires.

“In areas that we’ve treated with prescribed burning in the last two or three years, the fire actually stopped,” said Mike Theune, the National Park Service regional information officer.

Noah Berger/AP

Firefighters use hand tools to extinguish a spot fire in Sequoia National Forest on Sept. 22.

AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

The problem comes when large, uncontrolled fires reach the sequoias’ canopies, which has happened with the most recent wildfires and makes it harder for the trees to recover and keep growing.

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Firefighters deploy water lines with sprinklers during the Windy Fire in Sequoia National Forest on Sept. 23.

Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

The KNP Complex Fire exemplifies the extreme conditions sequoias have been contending with in recent years: fires that are larger, hotter and faster. A specialized task force of more than 50 National Park Service personnel and firefighters was formed to try different measures to protect the trees.

Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Ed Christopher, left, deputy fire director at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, looks over the trees known as the Four Guardsmen in Sequoia National Park on Sept. 22.

Gary Kazanjian/AP

Gary Kazanjian/AP

The massive “monarch” sequoias, including General Sherman, the largest tree in the world by volume, were wrapped in a protective cover. Firefighters also conducted burnout operations — methodically guiding the fire through the grove, removing patches of vegetation and creating containment areas, said Steven Bekkerus, a public information officer for the KNP Complex Fire.

Gary Kazanjian/AP

Firefighters apply a protective wrap to giant sequoias in Sequoia National Park on Sept. 17.

National Park Service/AFP/Getty Images

National Park Service/AFP/Getty Images

Line safety director Joe Labak marks a falling branch hazard in Sequoia National Forest on Sept. 20.

Noah Berger/AP

Noah Berger/AP

The Giant Forest, where some of the tallest sequoias grow, was saved from the KNP Complex Fire, but the trees in Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon are not out of danger. As of Wednesday evening, 10 groves are still threatened by the fast-paced fire, Theune said.

Noah Berger/AP

The Windy Fire flings embers in Sequoia National Park on Sept. 21.

David McNew/Getty Images

David McNew/Getty Images

Each grove can harbor hundreds of sequoias, some of which are centuries old and others that are younger and resemble Christmas trees. The younglings, he said, are particularly vulnerable to the flames.

David McNew/Getty Images

Plumes of smoke rise as the Windy Fire burns closer to a lake in the Sequoia National Forest on Sept. 22.

AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

In 2020, the Castle Fire managed to destroy 10 to 14 percent of sequoias — an “unprecedented jump” from the less than 1 percent death toll these fires carried, Boiano said. As a result, the Giant Sequoia Coalition, composed of 11 land managers, was created to spur recovery and conservation efforts.

With the KNP Complex Fire underway, the Sequoia Parks Conservancy is collecting funds for tree recovery and restoring access to the park.

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A firefighter looks up the base of a giant sequoia in Long Meadow Grove on Sept. 23.

AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

These ancient trees have helped scientists understand the forest’s dynamics and unearth the secrets to the environment’s resilience. The danger to the sequoias has been met with an outpouring of support and donations.

For Boiano, the care boils down to the emotional attachment these trees carry and how people’s personal stories are deeply entwined with the trees.

AFP/Getty Images

A firefighter looks at giant sequoias affected by the Windy Fire in the Sequoia National Forest on Sept. 23.

“These are places where people have been sworn as citizens, gotten married or have cherished memories,” she said. “It’s really personal. Some people connect to giant sequoias for their life history, and some people connect to giant sequoias for the wonder that they have for them because they represent the wilderness of the human imagination.”

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Photo editing and Production by Karly Domb Sadof