We live in a mixed forest on the coast side of the peninsula where fires are raging. It’s a mix of coast redwood, Douglas fir, oaks, and a few other species. Many of the oaks and tanoaks are dead or dying from sudden oak death and are plentiful fuel for fires. I wonder if that’s some of what’s powering this unprecedented fire.
I had this pet theory that redwoods slowed forest fires because they really don’t like to burn. But my theory doesn’t seem to be holding up. The reason for my theory was that many of the redwoods around us, at least many of the larger, older ones, have survived fires before, some even multiple fires. Walking around our local redwood forests I’ve seen a lot of big trees with serious fire scars. Coast redwoods are documented as the most impervious of all trees in even high intensity forest fires. Their extremely thick bark and high crown aid in their survival. The data even suggests that other species of trees around the coast redwoods also fare better in fires just because of their proximity to the giants. But the redwoods and Doug firs seem to be burning pretty fast too.