BREAKING NEWS

Here's why Uttarakhand has been burning in the last 4 days

With Coronavirus already dealing a blow to the entire world, the last 4 days have been no less than a nightmare for Uttarakhand where several acres of forest has been gutted due to the wildfires ravaging the region. The forest fires claimed two lives and injured one along with charring several wildlife species who are part of the forest ecosystem in the region.  
 
Since the beginning of this year, the state has witnessed 46 wildfires, putting nearby people, wildlife and plan species in danger.  In Kumaon region alone, nearly 21 forest fires have been reported, making it it the worst place hit by wildfires in the state.
 
When the bushfires broke out on May 22nd, Forest officer Anita Kunwar informed the media that it was difficult to control the fires due to the wind. “At the time only 5-6 hectares were affected and forces were already called in to try and control the raging fire,” she added.
 
It is expected that this could have happened because a large portion of the forest is covered with pine trees, (also known as the ‘chir’) and these are highly inflammable. They cover over 16% of the state’s forest cover. Meanwhile, pictures of charred deer and other animals made it to social media, making it a heart-wrenching site.
 
IFS officer Vaibhav Singh tweeted: “Unbearable heat , treacherous terrain , one wrong step and you can break your bones , add to this the winds which make it extremely unpredictable!! This was my experience of dealing with this last night.”
 
Meanwhile, Forests in the East and West Himalayan regions of Uttarakhand have also been receiving irregular and scant rainfall. Natural water sources in the area have been drying up and temperatures are soaring. 
 
Rising temperatures, more bush fires?
 
For the past few years, the forest fires have been worsening, says the state’s forest department. According to government data,  between 2011 and 2017, the instances of forest fires have have nearly tripled. While there were 13,898 incidents in 2011, just six years later, the figure spiked to 35,888. 
 
This indicates the seriousness of how climate change has been depleting forest cover in the state and killing the flora and fauna in the region. Well, sounds like a warning bell for humanity on why we need to take Climate Change seriously! 
 

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