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For men busy dousing forest fire, a little help from heavens

Several parts of Uttarakhand recorded rainfall. It is expected that the rainfall will help moderate active fires and leave enough moisture in the grass to prevent further occurrence of forest blaze

dehradun Updated: May 29, 2018 21:13 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Forest Fire,forest blaze,rainfall
A fire burns in a pine forest. Both Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh have seen a spurt in forest fires.(AP)

The forest officials, fighting the blaze that has broken out in several parts of state, Tuesday heaved a sigh of relief as very light to light rainfall lashed several parts of Uttarakhand. The rainfall, it is expected, will help moderate the active fires and leave enough moisture in the grass to prevent further occurrence of forest blaze.

Mild showers were reported in parts of Dehradun, Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Tehri districts. The meteorological department has predicted the light rainfall activity to continue until May 31. The distribution and intensity of rainfall is likely to increase in the first week of June.

“The rainfall activity is presently isolated to only few areas. In hills, the temperature has dropped by 3 to 4 degrees and in plains by 2 to 3 degrees. From June 1, the activity will increase bringing down the temperature. It will also likely to bring down forest fires,” Bikram Singh, who heads meteorological department in Dehradun, said.

“The rain has brought a much-needed relief to people engaged in fire-fighting operations in the state for the last several days,” nodal officer for forest fires B P Gupta said. “Rain at this time is a blessing for us as it would douse the active fires and make our task much easier.”

Apart from dousing the active forest blazes, the showers will wet the grass and prevent the fire from spreading quickly, Gupta said.

The fire alerts, as per Forest Survey of India (FSI) statistics have dropped since May 22.

Uttarakhand, however, continued to report highest alerts — more than 5500 in the period followed by Himachal Pradesh that recorded over 3000 alerts. Jammu & Kashmir recorded over 2000 alerts followed by Punjab and Madhya Pradesh with less than 1000 alerts.

However, the forest fires this season, which aggravated last week due to rising temperature, have affected a total of 4186.42 hectares, including 54.7 hectare of plantation, in Uttarakhand. The losses due to the forest fires have run up to over Rs 80 lakh so far.

Interestingly, over 75% of the forest fires this year were reported in May, unlike previous years when April and May were peak fire seasons. 2016 witnessed the worst fire season when over 4500 hectare forests were gutted. This year April witnessed light rainfall due to which the loss was minimal.

As the forest fires flared up on May 20, the forest department pressed into operation 7,616 personnel, including fire-watchers, 59 from the revenue department, 31 from the police, 18 from the SDRF and six from the NDRF, besides 2,452 locals who volunteered in different parts of the state to lend a helping hand, Gupta said.

The MeT department has predicted similar weather conditions over the next few days, which should drastically reduce the number of forest fire incidents, he added.

First Published: May 29, 2018 21:13 IST