Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary Fire: 4 Uttarakhand Forest Department Workers Die Trying To Douse Blaze; Dept Pays Tribute

Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary Fire: 4 Uttarakhand Forest Department Workers Die Trying To Douse Blaze; Dept Pays Tribute

A devastating forest fire in Binsar Sanctuary in Uttarakhand has claimed the lives of four forest workers and left four others seriously injured, bringing the death toll from forest fires in Uttarakhand to 11 this summer.

BISWAJEET BANERJEEUpdated: Friday, June 14, 2024, 08:58 PM IST
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Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary Fire: 4 Uttarakhand Forest Department Workers Die Trying To Douse Blaze; Dept Pays Tribute | X

Almora: A devastating forest fire in Binsar Sanctuary in Uttarakhand has claimed the lives of four forest workers and left four others seriously injured, bringing the death toll from forest fires in Uttarakhand to 11 this summer.

On Friday, in response to the escalating fire, the government and the forest department commenced operations to lift water from Bhimtal Lake and douse the flames in Binsar Sanctuary using an Indian Air Force MI 17 helicopter. The rescue operation continued until 2 PM, necessitating a temporary halt to boating activities in Bhimtal Lake, which has affected local boating businesses.

The fire broke out on Thursday under suspicious circumstances. Forest department personnel, including fire watchers and PRD soldiers, were on the scene to formulate a firefighting strategy when they were encircled by the flames. Despite their efforts to escape, they were tragically overcome by the fire.

“Four of the foresters died while as many were injured,” government spokesman said. Among the four injured the incident, two were airlifted and taken to AIIMS. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Dhami announced the best possible treatment would be provided to these injured foresters.

Sheep herders set small fire so that they could get good quality of grass next season. More often than not, the situation goes out of hand turning a large swath of land into fire ball.

Almora district has seen the highest number of fatalities from forest fires this season. On May 3, four people, perished in Syunrakot, and on May 16, a villager died in Khaikatta of Someshwar while attempting to extinguish a forest fire. These incidents, combined with the latest tragedy, have resulted in nine deaths in Almora alone.

In a related incident, a fire in Joshimath spread dangerously close to a petrol pump, requiring fire brigade personnel nearly four hours to control it. A separate fire in Nandprayag damaged a tin shed before being extinguished.

Forestry officials attribute the increased incidence of fires to unusually dry conditions due to insufficient rain and snowfall. This year, forest fires have been reported since winter. From November to June 13 last year, Uttarakhand experienced 1,220 forest fire incidents, affecting 1,657 hectares of forest land. Of these, 591 incidents occurred in the Kumaon division, 523 in the Garhwal division, and 106 in wildlife areas.

In light of the current situation, the forest department has extended the fire season beyond the usual dates of February 15 to June 15. Additional Chief Forest Conservator (Forest Fire Control) Nishant Verma stated that all District Forest Officers (DFOs) and other officials have been instructed to remain vigilant and keep fire watchers deployed until June 20. The situation will be reviewed thereafter for further necessary action.

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