Summer fires in Himachal Pradesh’s grasslands and forests have so far led to 378 incidents, mainly in the low hills, and destroyed flora and fauna in over 3,000 hectares, a senior forest official said on Monday.
Areas in Shimla, Kullu, Solan and Sirmour have been affected by the fire.
“Only 40 fires are active in the state today in comparison with yesterday’s 73, which is encouraging”, the state’s additional chief secretary (forest), S. Ramaswamy, said.
He said a meeting with cement manufacturers is slated for May 7.
Local volunteers have joined more than 6,100 personnel from various agencies to fight the fires.
“There were 271 incidents of forest fire in the state today, of which 232 have been extinguished”.
Forest officials said most forest fires were deliberate acts.
While more than a thousand fires are raging in different places in the state, the incidences of fire outbreaks have gone up by four times in the past 24 hours, officials said.
Responding to the query, the counsel appearing for MoEF said that entire team of officials concerned was working on the issues and choppers of Indian Air Force (IAF) have also been deployed in the ongoing firefighting operations.
He also said that the number of fire cases had come down from 1,200 to 60 in the state.
In the Lok Sabha, two MPs cited reports of a half-dozen deaths in the fires over the past few days, but Union home minister Rajnath Singh refused to confirm this.
District Magistrate Vinod Kumar Suman said the whole of Chamoli received rains which was bound to help firefighters in Nandadevi national park area and Tharali, among the worst hit by forest fires. Which include maintaining fire lines, beating the fire, and spraying water or carbon-dioxide to douse the flames.
The forest fire close to the Pinegrove school two days back, had caused panic among the students, which was later brought under control and all children were safe. “Efforts are being made to control the fire in remaining areas by evening”, Singh told ANI here.
After areas were soaked from above, groups of villagers fanned out into the steaming jungle forests and used green-leafed branches to beat out the embers still glowing on the ground.
The fire was, however, brought under control and no damage was caused to the school.
Speaking about the reason behind the fire, he said extreme dry weather with no humidity was the reason behind the massive fire.