Wildfires are currently “exploding” across California, endangering tens-of-thousands of acres of forests as well as homes, and choking Northern California so thoroughly with smoke that it currently has the worst air quality in the world. Although the full extent of the damage won’t be known until the fires die down, one casualty came to light on Tuesday: Multiple historic buildings in the Big Basin Redwoods State Park have burnt down.
The 118-year-old park, California’s oldest, is now closed indefinitely. Campers and staff were evacuated on Tuesday, according to SFGATE, but the campgrounds and National Register of Historic Places-listed Headquarters Administration Building were destroyed in the CZU Lighting Complex fires. The headquarters, built from stone and locally-sourced redwood logs, according to The Mercury News, was built in 1936 by the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps. Sara Barth, executive director of the nonprofit Sempervirens Fund (a land trust dedicated to protecting the redwoods of Santa Cruz), told the Mercury News that they would help rebuild the destroyed facilities across Big Basin State Park.
Although the redwoods themselves are somewhat fire resistant and might fare better than the built structures around them, whether the 18,000-acre park’s wastewater treatment plant and other crucial infrastructure was damaged will determine when it will be able to reopen.
In relatively happier news, the 133-year-old Lick Observatory outside of San Jose has reportedly been spared. According to CNET, the observatory, which is owned by the University of California system and perched atop Mount Hamilton, was threatened by encroaching flames last night but was ultimately safe as of this morning.