With over 45 forest fires reported in the last 24 hours, Uttarakhand has reached out to the central government for help and support. 

Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat has also held an emergency meeting with the state government officials.

And with temperatures yet to touch maximum range, more forest fires are likely to occur. But, this isn’t the first time that Uttarakhand is witnessing wildfires. It happens almost every year during May and June. 


And, this isn’t a phenomena that’s exclusive to India. Remember the Australian wildfires? Some parts of the US are also experiencing wildfires right now. 

According to a report, India alone has reported 30,000 incidents of wildfires. 


So, lets try and understand what forest fires are, how they occur and how it can be controlled or stopped?

Firstly forest fires start in two ways: naturally or human caused. Natural fires can occur due to rise in temperatures, dry weather, drought or lightning. But, human caused wildfires can happen due to smoking or other activities. 


Now, to understand how a forest fire occurs, you need to know that heat, oxygen and fuel are three elements that play a major role in getting it started. It’s called a “fire triangle.” In simple terms, all these components must exist for a forest fire to start. 


Also, know that forest fires can be classified into 3 categories depending on where they occur. 

– Ground fires occur on the ground

– Surface Fires occur on the surface of the forest up to 1.3 meters high
– Crown fires are the most dangerous fires. They spread the fastest and they occur in the tops of the trees. 

Two to three types of forest forest can also occur simultaneously and that becomes even more dangerous. 


So, how does one deal with it? 

– Communication is key. If a forest fire is detected in early stages and reported, it becomes much easier to extinguish the fire. 

– Proper transportation for fire fighters is also vital as wildfires often occur in rugged terrains.


– Suppression methods like digging trenches in the soil layer is practiced to douse the fire (the methods can vary depending upon the type of fire, as dicussed above). 

However, naturally occurring wildfires play an integral role in nature. They burn down decaying, dead matter that act as nutrients to the soil. Natural forest fires also act as a disinfectant. How, you ask? They remove diseased plants and poisonous/harmful insects from the ecosystem. 


In fact, sequoias (a species of trees) rely on fire for their seeds to open.

Here’s what you can do if you are stuck in a wildfire:

– If the wildfire is coming towards your area, leave immediately. 


– If you live in a prone area, have an evacuation plan ready and a ‘go to’ bag with emergency supplies. 

– If you can’t leave the area before help arrives, don a face mask (preferably a N95 respirator) to help reduce smoke and particle inhalation.

Click here to know all the safety measures