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Climate changes trigger a forest fire in Shimla; Lasts over 120 hours!

The early arrival of summer and the protracted dry period have triggered forest fires in Dharamsala, Shimla, Mandi, and Solan districts, with 445 fires registered in the first month of the fire season. Despite the fact that the fire season runs from April 1 to June 30, several fires have been reported in the first month alone. To date, 445 forest fires have been documented, impacting an area of 3195 hectares. The Forest Department estimates the damage to be Rs 88 lakh. Although pinewoods have been harmed in the majority of cases when fires have been reported, other types of forests have also been affected.

Yesterday alone, 32 forest fires impacting 173 hectares of land were reported, with damage estimated at Rs 5.50 lakh. The pine woods, where the majority of the flames are raging, account for around 15% of Himachal’s total forest cover. ‘Because the bark of pine trees is quite strong, the majority of the trees harmed by fire are renewed, but in certain cases the damage is irreversible,’ said Anil Sharma, State Nodal Officer for Forest Fires.

The forest fire situation in Dharamsala is the worse it has ever been, with 120 fires registered so far. A large fire has been blazing in the Tara Devi forest along the Shimla-Solan route for the previous two to three days. The Rampur division has recorded the second-highest number of fires, followed by 83 in Mandi and 61 in Shimla.

Despite the fact that the Forest Department is linked to the Forest Fire Alert System, where an immediate alert of smoke billowing out of a forest is given via satellite images with the Forest Survey of India (FSI), the situation this year appears to be extremely serious. ‘The FSI warning is sent to the pertinent DFO, Range Officer, and Forest Guard to ensure that there is rapid response and the fire is confined right from the start and there is no lapse at any level,’ Sharma said.

The Forest Department has identified 150 forest ranges that are particularly vulnerable to fire and is taking efforts to avoid fires. Aside from that, around 9,000 forest fire volunteers have been enlisted to assist the employees in reporting and containing forest fires. The Department has also been raising awareness at its own level and has requested elected representatives to educate people and solicit their assistance at gram sabha meetings. As a precaution, steps like constructing fire lines, controlled burning, and removing road sides of dry and extremely combustible pine needles have been performed.



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