Since January this year, over 107 hectares of forest cover in Uttarakhand have been affected by wildfires, as per data from the state’s forest department.
The forest fire data showed that 40.68 hectares of area was gutted in the Garhwal region, followed by 35.55 hectares in the Kumaon region.
31.02 hectares of forest cover was hit by wildfires in admin wildlife, a category of protected forest area.
The wildfires led to monetary loss of over Rs 4,80,000. A loss of Rs 3.66 lakh was reported from Garhwal, over Rs 1 lakh in Kumaon and Rs 14,670 was recorded from admin wildlife.
In both Garhwal and Kumaon regions, 40 incidents of wildfires were reported this year, while ‘admin wildlife’ reported over a dozen forest fires in the same period, the data revealed.
The cases of fire spiked during February due to hot weather. Usually, the forest fires in Uttarakhand begin in mid-February and last till the onset of the monsoon in mid-June. Forests catch fires as there are plenty of dry leaves on the ground and the temperature starts rising. Any spark anywhere can lead to a major fire.
But the spike in fire incidents has not resulted in any casualties among the villagers or the forest department staffers. The wildfires have not hurt livestock, according to the forest department data.
Uttarakhand has been witnessing massive fires in alternate years recently. In 2019, Uttarakhand recorded 2,981 incidents of fires, and in 2018 the number was 4,480. In 2017, Uttarakhand recorded 1,228 forest fires, while in 2016, the state saw 4,433 fires and in 2015, it recorded 701 such incidents.