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Forest Fire Control

All the Forests of the State are highly vulnerable to Forest Fire. However, the forests of Western and Southern parts of Odisha are more frequently vulnerable to forest fires as compared to those in the Eastern parts. This is because forests of Western and Southern parts of the state experience a long dry spell with scanty rainfall. The frequency and intensity of forest fires, has increased since 1990.

CAUSES: Forest fires are caused mainly for following reasons:

  • Natural forest fires
  • Forest fires caused by heat generated in the litter and other biomes in summer
  • Controlled burning has been used traditionally by local inhabitants for collection of NTFP like Mahua flower, Sal seed, for profuse sprouting of Kenduleaves and grasses for grazing, scaring of wild animals etc.

Many forest fires start from Natural causes such as LIGHTENING which set trees on fire. Periodic lightening induced fires have been recorded throughout history of Odisha. However, rain that follows lightening extinguishes such fires without causing much damage. Sometimes controlled burning is done as part of Forest Management. The most forest fires are the result of human neglect. A casual throwing away of a smoldering bidi, cigarette butt or a spark from a picnicker's open hearth in a desiccated forest can often be sufficient to start a fire in summer. Such fires usually start on the ground as the dry litter (senescent leaves and twigs) catches fire easily. Then, fanned by strong winds, the flames soon engulf vast tract forest turning them to ashes and, therefore, cause extensive damage unless controlled in time.

The year-wise incidence of forest fire detected in the State by the MODIS satellite data for the forest fire season is as follows:

Year No. of incidence
Fire Season 2011 771
Fire Season 2012 2606
Fire Season 2013 1832
Fire Season 2014  1891
Fire Season 2015 1292
Fire Season 2016 2572
Fire Season 2017 36827

Forest fire prevention-

  • Silvicultural Practices
  • Clearance of Inflammable Material
  • Slash Disposal
  • Prescribed Burning
  • Extension and Education
  • Pasture and Animal Husbandry
  • Fire Lines
  • Evergreen Fuel Brakes
  • Closure and Restriction

Combating forest fire involves two prong strategies; preventive and curative. Preventing strategies include tracing of forest fire lines and their maintenance, boundary line maintenance and controlled burning. Fire vulnerability map is prepared on the basis of fire occurrence data to identify patches more prone to forest fire. Special attention is provided to such area. Curative measures include detection of forest fire and its extinguishment. For detection watchers are deployed to watch towers to provide surveillance over forests and report occurrence of forest fire through communication network like VHF, Mobile etc. Once forest fire is located, then forest fire squads are deployed with all equipment to the spot to douse the fire. Help of satellite data is also taken now a days to spot incidence of forest fire. Forest dependent communities are also involved in the combat of forest fire. Incentives are given to such communities who prevent or douse forest fire on their own initiatives.

1. Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), Crisis Management Plan and Disaster Management Plan have been prepared taking into consideration of the trend of forest fire in Odisha. Analysis of these in GIS domain helps a lot for effective monitoring, prevention and control of Forest fire.

2. A highly technical GPS PDA devices has been used during the current fire season 2017 for Monitoring and reporting of Forest fire along with real time photographs and Geo coordinates, which enables the higher officials to provide in time support to field staff for diminishing the fire.

3. Mass awareness has been created among the forest fringe villages along with 12666 VSS and 534 EDCs to get support to overcome this fire hazard. They are rewarded with incentives for actively participating in dousing of live fires with the field staffs.

4. During the fire Season Forest Fire Cell cum control rooms are active in IT and Geomatics Centre (FITGC) in the State Headquarters, along with all Forest Division Headquarters with adequate staff, improved technology, improved firefighting instruments and vehicles.

5. To mitigate the forest fire Fire protection squads (includes local youth) are deployed in the field, fire blowers are provided to fight the fire, and fire line clearance has been done to minimize the fire instances.