Forest fires flare up in Uttarakhand; Nainital, Almora, Tehri worst-hit

Representational Image: Matt Palmer

Dehradun: Forest fires continue to rage in Uttarakhand prompting the Centre to rush more teams to the region to quench it.

Two Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters that were dispatched here doused the fires at three places, but officials report that there are 75 new fires.

The fires have been raging on for days now destroying 105.85 hectares of green cover in the state, officials said. Nainital, Almora, Tehri and Pauri districts are the worst-hit, forest officials said.

The IAF MI-17 helicopters moved to the Kirti Nagar forest division of Tehri district to control the fires by spraying water collected from Shri Kot dam in buckets with a capacity of 5,000 litres, they said.

While fires were doused in Bariargadh and Sarkyana in Kirti Nagar range and Khirsu in Pauri district on Tuesday, the IAF helicopters could not be utilised in the Kumaon region as bad weather prevented them from taking off.

As many as 414 forest fires have been reported from Uttarakhand in April so far and 645.3 hectares of forests destroyed, they said.

Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat has deployed 12,000 forest department personnel and 1300 fire stations to stop the fire.

Forest department officials have been asked not to take any leave and keep a close watch on the situation, the chief minister said, adding bushes around residential areas are being cleared so that the forest fires do not spread there.

A major reason for rising forest fire incidents in the state is the paucity of rain during winter. Rainfall during winter was less than normal this year.

Since January this year, there have been 983 incidents of forest fire in the state affecting 1,292 hectares of land.

(With inputs from PTI)

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