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IAF helicopter roped in to douse forest fires in Uttarakhand

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DEHRADUN, April 27: An IAF helicopter was pressed into service on Saturday to extinguish the raging forest fires in Uttarakhand’s Nainital district, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said.

The situation in the district worsened on Friday with the flames reaching the High Court Colony in the Pines area.

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An MI-17 helicopter collected water in a Bambi Bucket from Bhimtal lake and poured it over the burning forests of Pines, Bhumiadhar, Jyolikot, Narayan Nagar, Bhawali, Ramgarh and Mukteshwar areas of the district, officials said.

Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said all efforts are being made to bring the fires under control and it will be done soon.

“An IAF helicopter has already started dousing the fires,” he said.

Dhami said he will hold a meeting with forest officials in Haldwani later in the day to review the situation.

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Three people were arrested in Rudraprayag on Friday while trying to set fire to forests.

As many as 31 fresh incidents of forest fire were reported from various parts of the state on Friday, destroying 33.34 hectares of forest land, according to officials.

The fire that broke out in the forest near Nainital took a horrific form on Friday, posing a threat to the residents of High Court Colony. It also affected traffic movement in the area.

Besides forest department staff, Army personnel are involved in efforts to control the fire.

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Anil Joshi, a resident of the Pines area and assistant registrar of the Uttarakhand High Court said, “The fire had engulfed an old and vacant house located near The Pines on Friday. It did not cause any damage to High Court Colony but it came dangerously close to the buildings.”

The district administration has banned boating in Naini lake in view of the blaze.

Nainital Divisional Forest Officer Chandrashekhar Joshi said, “We have deployed 40 Manora Range personnel and two forest rangers to extinguish the fire.”

From November 1 last year till now, a total of 575 incidents of forest fire have been reported in Uttarakhand, affecting 689.89 hectares of forest area and costing the state than Rs 14 lakh. (PTI)





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