Two IAF helicopters joined the operations, ferrying water through the Garhwal and the Kumaon hills and dumping it in areas inaccessible to forest personnel using 3,500-litre ‘Bambi Buckets’.
The Forest Department’s data show that till Sunday 1,082 incidents of forest fire had covered 2,269 hectares, and preliminary losses were put at Rs. 22 lakh.
Villages in many districts kept awake at night to try and protect their houses and cattle from the creeping blaze.
Wild animals, including snakes, leopards, monkeys and barking deer, moved closer to human habitations, as they were pushed out of the forests by fire and smoke.
The government has deployed National Disaster Response Force teams and raised the number of forest officials from 3,000 to 6,000.
Reasons for forest fire
1. Uttarakhand has been under a dry spell this year with either scanty or no rainfall in most areas. High temperature with no moisture was the major reason for fires this year.
2. Intense winds has exacerbated the situation. Intense winds increase supply of air leading to increase in rate of combustion.
3. Widespread fire could also be attributed to the presence of pine trees in forests here. Their leaves can catch fire easily. While careless residents and visitors could have caused some fires, illicit timber trade too is responsible. Major illicit timber trade relies on pine forests since it is used for construction. Forest fires facilitate easy extraction of timber from forests.