The Indian Air Force (IAF) has poured over 2.6 lakh litres of water in over 90 sorties to control a massive wildfire that broke out in Mount Abu in Rajasthan on Friday morning. The fire has been brought under control to a certain extent.
The IAF is continuing the operation to completely douse the flames on Sunday as well amid reports of fresh fires. Since Sunday morning, both choppers have already undertaken 19 sorties and poured over 53,000 litres of water to douse the flames.
The wildfire broke out near the famous sunset and honeymoon point forcing the district administration to call in for a suitably modified IAF MI-17VS helicopter from Phalodi in Jodhpur. The IAF then pressed into service another chopper from Jamnagar in Gujarat. Both the helicopters carried out 73 sorties to ferry water from Nakki lake and spray it over the fire ravaged areas of the Aravali hills, the Press Trust of India reported.
"Wing Commander Thiagaraman and Squadron Leader Praveen Tiwari had flown 73 sorties since morning today dropping over 1,82,000 liters over the areas in the immediate vicinity of the town," Defence Spokesperson Lt Col Manish Ojha said, adding that inhabited areas close to where the fire broke out were given priority during the operation to douse the flames.
Tourists have been asked to avoid going to the sunset and honeymoon points till the fire is completely doused. Boating activities at Nakki Lake have been stopped because choppers are carrying water from the lake to the fire ravaged areas.
"The fire was not very far from sunset point and honeymoon point yesterday (Friday) so both the places were evacuated. Besides these two, there are other tourist points in Mount Abu and they are unaffected... Since the flames have not been fully doused, the tourists have been asked to not go to those points as a precautionary measure because it becomes difficult to evacuate the places in case of an operation," Circle Officer Abu Parvat Vijay Pal Singh told PTI.
Singh added that the wildfire in the forests is a recurring phenomenon but it was massive this year. "Reason of the fire is not clear but bamboo trees in the forest sometimes cause wildfire, while some locals fetch honey and they ignite fire in this process which can also lead to the fire in the forest," Singh further added.