fires are threatening to destroy large forest patches in the states of Orissa and Uttaranchal. Blazes have been reported from Pinder, Mandakani, Nayar, Yamuna and Bhagirathi valleys of Uttaranchal. Due to lack of rainfall in these areas since September 2000 and consequent dry vegetation, the fires are spreading fast. This could become an environmental disaster that could destroy the region's ecological balance, as the state forest department does not have the resources to launch fire-fighting operations.
Fires have also been reported from 15 division areas of Orissa's 27 territorial forest divisions, said B K Mishra, chief of the state forest department. A total area of 1,000 sq km is ablaze. Incidences of forest fires are generally reported in the state between February and May every year caused due to dry bamboo rubbing against each other. "But due to climatic changes, the atmospheric temperature has increased drastically since last year and as a result the forest fires have been raging since October," said Jethu Bhoi, a researcher. In some cases the fires have been deliberately started to clear forest areas for cultivation or to flush out animals, Mishra added.
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