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Uttaranchal forest fires abating

June 05, 2003 17:38 IST

Forest fires raging across parts of Uttaranchal, which claimed eight lives, showed signs of abating on Thursday as mild to medium rains lashed several parts of the hill state.

"The fire broke out on Tuesday and despite efforts to dig fire-lines it spread into neigbouring forests," a spokesman in Uttaranchal chief minister's office said.

"Two of the victims were forest department employees who were tying to put out the fire," he said adding, "four children, who were tapping resin from pine trees, fell into the fire."

Uttaranchal Principal Forest Secretary R S Tolia said, "Forest fires were a common feature in the hills during the summer months and invariably it is human carelessness that caused the first spark."

He said all the 13 district magistrates have been asked to remain alert and keep a close watch on the situation. 

The forest areas in Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Rudraprayag, Tehri districts in Garhwal region as well as Almora, Nainital, Bageshwar and Udhamsing Nagar districts in Kumaon region were still smouldering from the fire.

Trees worth crores of rupees were also gutted in several parts.

Meanwhile, Pawan Hans resumed its helicopter service to the famous Kedarnath shrine, which were stopped for two days due to the fires.

With inputs from PTI

Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow