Saturday saw forests in Rudraprayag burning due to forest fire, which was eventually contained by Sunday morning. Vaibhav Singh, an Indian Forest Officer from Uttarakhand, who is presently posted as divisional forest officer of Rudraprayag division, stated that the fire was intense and he, who was at the site, along with his team, had a tough time controlling the situation.

On Twitter, he wrote, "Unbearable heat, treacherous terrain, one wrong step and you can break your bones; add to this the winds, which make it extremely unpredictable! This was my experience of dealing with this last night." He had posted a video of flames engulfing thousands of trees on Saturday.

Forest fire

Such events are regular at Rudraprayag and for real time monitoring of forest fires; the Rudraprayag division had launched a mobile application earlier this month.

The app was named Forest Fire Rudraprayag and Vaibhav asked people to download the app on their phones and help the forest officials know in case such incidents happen. The application helps officials monitor such incidents better with real time location of active fires on Google Map. Using the application, people can report forest fires through geo-tagged images.

The application also enables people to track the location of fire fighting vehicles and crew on a real-time basis.

Vaibhav Singh had earlier stated, "Our main aim with this application is to reduce the response time. We have mapped our fire crew stations, plantations, and van panchayats, along with type of forests. As soon as a new fire is detected by Forest Survey of India, we can put the input received from FSI on our system and know the exact location of the fire, whether it is in a pine forest or a plantation or civil forest."

Twitter users reacted to the video posted by the IFS officer and someone when asked him that what was the strategy to contain such fires in Uttarakhand, Vaibhav said, "At the moment we have 32 crew stations and about 180 personnel working 24x7 in Rudraprayag FD. Similar arrangements have been made throughout the state .We need people to step in and cooperate, especially in the hills. It was contained today morning with increasing temperature and next few days are critical. Hoping for the best!"

A user asked him that why don't they use choppers for dousing the fires as there are dams around from where water can be lifted and used, Vaibhav clarified that it is a costly affair, however, if used, choppers can be really helpful.

Vaibhav Singh's video