WARSAW, Poland A suspected arson fire in southwestern Poland has damaged a 750-year-old oak tree believed to be the country’s oldest.
The deputy chief forest ranger in Szprotawa, Jerzy Wilanowski, said today that firefighters battled the blaze for more than 30 hours last week using water and foam.
He says authorities will know in May whether the tree survived if it grows new shoots. Wilanowski says he knows of a case of an old oak tree surviving a fire.
“I was sure that the “grandpa” would survive me, but now I’m not so sure,” Wilanowski told The Associated Press, referring to the tree in an affectionate way. “We have to wait.”
The tree is nicknamed “Chrobry” after a medieval king, and its trunk circumference is more than 10 metres and height more than 28 metres. The oak is protected by law and an arsonist faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Wilanowski said that a few branches were cut from the tree after the fire, to preserve its genetic material in case it does not survive and fresh acorns were put “with reverence” into pots, to grow. Oaks from Chrobry’s earlier acorns grow in more than a dozen hectares of the forest.