Inmates Save North America’s Largest Oak

A firefighting crew made up of California prison inmates has saved the Champion Oak, recognized as the largest oak tree in North America, from the raging "Apple" wildfire. KMIR's Daytona Everett reports.

(KMIR/NBC News) — An inmate firefighting crew has saved the largest oak tree in North America from California’s “Apple” wildfire.

The Champion Oak, located in the Oak Glen Preserve in San Bernardino County, is estimated to be between 800 and 1,000 years old.

Tim Krantz, the Botanic Garden Director at Oak Glen preserve, said when he woke up and saw the flames moving toward the tree, he “knew right away what we had to do.”

Of course, he needed a team. A group of 30 inmates was assembled to help Krantz with the task.

They had no idea what they were getting into when it came to the hike to get there.

“It’s 3,000 feet of vertical,” Krantz said. “It’s a 45 degree angle and we hit that slope at about 2 o’clock in the afternoon, full sun.”

The fire crew was lugging chainsaws, fuel, picks, shovels and more in full fire gear.

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