WATCH: IAF undertakes water sprinkling operations to douse Uttarakhand forest fire

The chopper, which has the capacity of carrying 3000 litres of water, is collecting water from Bhimtal lake and making sorties of Almakhan, Kilbari and Nalena areas of the district to douse the fires.

By: PTI | Dehradun | Updated: May 1, 2016 7:53 pm
Uttarakhand, Uttarakhand forest fires, IAF undertakes operations, Uttarakhand news, Uttarakhand forest fire news, Mi17 helicopters Indian Air Force deploys 11-member team with Mi-17 helicopter to control the fire. (Source: ANI)

An Mi 17 chopper of the IAF began water sprinkling operations in Nainital Sunday to control raging forest fires which have destroyed 2269 hectares of forested area across Uttarakhand, even as another chopper engaged for the same mission failed to take off due to low visibility.

The chopper, which has the capacity of carrying 3000 litres of water, is collecting water from Bhimtal lake and making sorties of Almakhan, Kilbari and Nalena areas of the district to douse the fires, Principal Conservator of Forest and nodal officer BP Gupta told.

However, another IAF chopper engaged for the same purpose in Pauri has not been able to take off due to low visibility, Pauri District Magistrate Chandrasekhar Bhatt said.

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The chopper has collected water from Shrinagar dam but will make a sortie over areas where fires are active only when visibility improves, he said.

However, with the two choppers pressed into service and all security agencies besides locals involved in fire extinguishing operations the situation is likely to be brought under control in a couple of days, the PCF said.

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Seven persons have been killed due to forest fires, which have spread to sparsely populated remote hill areas.

Pauri, Nainital, Rudraprayag and Tehri are among the worst hit districts, Gupta said but hoped with all agencies activated the situation was bound to improve.

Three companies of the NDRF, one of SDRF besides PRD and homeguard personnel are currently engaged in the operations, he said.

With the MeT department predicting a significant fall in day temperatures after May 2, forest fires may get under control after a couple of days, he said but added that the administration will have to remain alert for the next 35 days to prevent fresh forest fire incidents.

Also Read: Uttarakhand forest fire: Mi-17 choppers to spray water over burning forests 

2269 hectares of forest land have been engulfed in flames this season which has witnessed a total of 1082 forest fire incidents.

Since the beginning of forest fire season in the state in February, 922 incidents have occurred so far in which seven were injured.

Worried over forest fires which are still raging in different parts of the state, Governor K K Paul had reviewed the rescue efforts underway via videoconferencing with officials in the field and asked them to speed up their efforts.

IG Sanjay Gunjyal is coordinating with the NDRF, the district magistrates concerned and Principal Conservator of Forest to supervise the rescue operations.

Locals are being encouraged to report a fire incident to the district magistrate concerned as soon as they sight it so that it can be controlled in time.

The governor haD doubled the number of personnel deployed to control the fires from 3000 to 6000 and asked all agencies including the SDRF, district administration and the rural population to contribute their bit in the exercise.

Forest fires are natural during summer but this time they have occurred on a bigger scale as the fire season which normally begins by February 15 and ends by June 15, began on February 2.

Former chief minister Harish Rawat has asked the governor to declare Uttarakhand as a fire disaster struck state and involve locals as much as possible in fire extinguishing efforts.

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The PCF said the scale of forest fires in Uttarakhand this time has been bigger due to little or no rain during winter at most places.

Pre-fire alerts listing possible fire points over the next seven days in forest areas are being made available on forest department’s website http://www.forest.uk.govt. an official release here said.

The Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is rushing Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) refullers to replenish IAF choppers deployed to douse the massive fire in Uttarakhand.

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