Natural Disasters

More than 100 days of dry spell have caused 200 forest fires in Odisha since January 1: Data

There has been a 250% rise in fire incidents in India this year compared to 2022

By Shuchita Jha
Published: Tuesday 07 February 2023
Red points on the map indicate fire incidents in India. Image: NASA Fire Information for Resource Management System.

Odisha has seen more than 200 cases of forest fires since the beginning of the year, with the latest one in a reserve forest at Anantpur village on February 4, 2023. 

The village falls under the jurisdiction of the Kamakshyanagar Western range, Dhenkanal district. The fire spread to nearby farmland, causing panic among the residents. Dry paddy fields fueled the fire as residents rushed to douse and inform the forest officials.

Also read: Summer fire activities thrice than winter months in 2021

There have been 1,151 fire incidents in the state from January 1 to February 7, according to the SNPP-VIIRS monitoring system, the Forest Survey of India’s (FSI) website noted.

The latest ones occurred in Bhawanipatna Circle of Nuapada district, Rourkela Circle of Deogarh district and Angul Circle of Dhenkanal district on Tuesday, among others.

Last year, there were just 405 fire incidents for the same period, according to the SNPP-VIIRS monitoring system. This is a 284 per cent increase in the number of fire incidents for the same period. 

Some 10,721 fire incidents were reported from across the country by the FSI website for this period, while it was 4,332 last year for January 1-February 7, 2022.

It has been around 100 days since the state got any rain and if the dry spell continues, more such incidents might happen, Debidutta Biswal, the principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF), told the local media.

Also read: Odisha recorded the most forest fires in India last season

“We have not received any rainfall since November. It has been more than three months of dry spell. As we mostly have deciduous forests with majorly Sal trees, their dry leaves are falling and getting accumulated on the forest floor which is leading to ground fires as the temperatures are rising,” Biswal told Down To Earth

He had earlier told the local media that they have reported incidents from around 200 places in the state since January and if the dry spell continues, it will worsen the situation. 

The state forest department is creating fire lines in all susceptible forests like Simlipal Tiger Reserve, Phulbani, Koraput etc. and is clearing out leaves from the forest floor, the PCCF told Down To Earth.

They are using their state monitoring system to control forest fires which reported 128 fire incidents on February 2. 

“We use the Forest Survey of India’s monitoring app and also have an Odisha Forest Management System which has another application to report forest fires that may have been missed by FSI, he added

There are almost 75 to 100 such incidents a day, Biswal said. “Once we get an alert from a point, the forest guard of the concerned forest informs the squad and they go to the spot to douse the fire. So far, we have seen that there is a 95% control rate of fires,” he said.

On January 29, a forest fire in the Tanakasahi reserve forest engulfed more than three acres of the forest. 

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