Nainital: The Uttarakhand fire, on Sunday, continued to spread despite attempts to contain the damage. The fire is reported to have spread to the highway too.

Six people have lost their lives and over 2000 acres of forest cover has been gutted by the fire, even as the Centre continues to send in personnel to take control of the situation that is fast getting out of hand.

Union Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar said that the government would investigate how and why the massive fire erupted and spread to such a wide area. 
He further added,”It would be seen if timber mafia is behind the blaze, but the first priority is to douse the fire and give relief to people.”
“The Prime Minister’s Office has also earmarked Rs 5 crore for the fire-fighting operation. The home ministry is monitoring the situation,” Javadekar said.
As per the latest reports, forty NDRF personnel had reached Almora, one of the worst hit districts, officials said.

In all, over 135 personnel from the The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are working non-stop to put out the flames and conduct rescue operations. Also two MI-17 helicopters continue to be deployed in the region to assist in the operation.

“Two helicopters were sent by the Indian Air Force. One has been sent in Gorakhal Sainik School and another one in Pouri, Srinagar. The speciality of the helicopter is it can take 5,000 litre of water from any source of water, be it pond or river and can drop it anywhere,” Wing Commander V.K. Singh, operation in-charge, Airforce said.

“Our mission is to carry water from Bhimtal to places where fire is burning. There is a huge area covering the flames. We will maintain a distance of 100 metre from the fire to douse the flames,” he added.

The fire raged on Saturday even as three teams of the NDRF were deployed in Almora, Gauchar and Pauri and one team of the State Disaster Response Fund in Nainital to extinguish the flames.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Governor KK Paul on Saturday and assured him of providing all necessary assistance to control the fire.

The Governor has directed all District Magistrates of the affected districts to make full use of available resources to douse the fire.

The Nainital High court has also expressed concern and directed to control the fire in the shortest possible time.

Since the beginning of forest fire incidents in the state in early February this year, 922 incidents have occurred so far killing six people including three women and a child and blighting nearly 2,000 hectares of green cover.

(With agency inputs)

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