Joshua Tree National Park tree torched over weekend

One of Joshua Tree National Park’s namesake trees was torched and burned so badly it had to be cut down, National Park Service officials said today.

Park visitors found the tree burning at 8:10 p.m. Saturday, on the roadside about one mile east of Sheep Pass Campground. The visitors slowed the fire with water bottles until firefighters arrived to keep the flames from
spreading into the desert.

The tree was cut down at its base to prevent it from falling. Park law enforcement, San Bernardino County firefighters, the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management responded.

“These iconic trees are the tangible symbol of the park, and of the California desert,” said Joshua Tree National Park Superintendent David Smith.

“The loss of any Joshua Tree saddens me.”

The fire was determined to be intentional, and took out the iconic tree, which is not really a tree but a succulent formerly called a Yucca Brevifolia. No lightning or storm events were reported in the area.

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