A massive forest fire broke out at the Pandav cave area in Gangotri in Uttarakhand nearly two days ago continues to rage through the forest. Forest fires have continually struck this region since February. According to a report in the Hindustan Times, these fires have damaged more than 1,200 hectare forest cover. This is estimated to have caused a monetary loss of over Rs 20 lakh with a total of 782 fire incidents until last week. Separately, fires destroyed 794 hectare of land in Kumaon, 254 hectare in Garhwal, 123 hectare and 44.10 hectare in protected wildlife areas in Shivalik, according to HT.
The temperatures for this week have been predicted to go down with a likelihood of Thundersquall with hailstorm. Last year, soaring temperatures caused massive fires in the state that destroyed nearly 4048 hectares of green cover in 1857 incidents. Although wildfires are an annual occurrence in Uttarakhand, they were bigger and more widespread last year. The fire season usually begins from mid-February and lasts until mid-June, when the rains arrive.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) also conducted mock fire drills in all the 13 districts of the region to prepare for raging wildfires.
Sometimes, wildfires are a natural process, and they even help forests by promoting flowering, branching and seedling establishment. Himachal Principal Chief Conservator of Forests S P Vasudeva says fires that are limited to the surface may help in the natural regeneration of forests. The heating of the soil may result in helpful microbial activity, and hasten decaying processes that are useful for the vegetation.
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