Firefighters save ‘dinosaur trees’ from devastating Australian wildfires

An ancient pine forest that has stood since the time of the dinosaurs was spared from the devastating wildfires consuming Australia.

Specialist firefighters were dropped into a remote gorge in the Blue Mountains to reach a grove of about 200 prehistoric Wollemi pines ahead of a massive wildfire, National Parks and Wildlife officials said.

Firefighters set up an irrigation system around the dinosaur trees to keep them wet while planes strategically bombed the fire front with fire retardant to slow its progress.

Although some trees were scarred by fire, the operation was considered a success -- firefighters were able to save the stand.

"Wollemi National Park is the only place in the world where these trees are found in the wild and, with less than 200 left, we knew we needed to do everything we could to save them," Matt Kean, the New South Wales environment minister, said in a statement, CNN reported. "The pines, which prior to 1994 were thought to be extinct and whose location is kept secret to prevent contamination, benefited from an unprecedented environmental protection mission."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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