"When The Toughest Trees Met The Hottest Fire"

"A year ago, in the middle of the night, crashes of thunderbolts shook millions of people in the San Francisco Bay Area out of their sleep. They didn’t know history was about to happen.

A storm swept over a region baking under record heat and dryness. Instead of rain, though, the storm sent thousands of lightning strikes, and by the time the sun came up, hundreds of wildfires crackled in the hills. They would combine into four major fires and consume more wildland than any event in state history, destroying over 4,000 structures and killing seven people.

Amid the devastation, one blaze left an extraordinary mark.

The CZU Lightning Complex, as it would come to be known, had immediate consequences, burning down almost 1,500 buildings, forcing the evacuation of 77,000 people and killing a 73-year-old recluse named Tad Jones. One citizen of the forest will feel the effects for ages. The fire delivered a scorching blow to a shaggy and mysterious tree called the coast redwood. The world’s tallest living thing — and one of the biggest — the coast redwood is also spectacularly old, with many specimens born before Jesus Christ."

David Ferris reports for E&E News August 16, 2021.

Source: E&E News, 08/17/2021