As India grapples to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, various sources have reported forest fires in Uttarakhand that have been going on since the past few days.
According to a report published in Times Of India, on May 24, the forest fire has consumed 51.34 hectares of cover thus far since the first incident was reported.
As of Tuesday evening (26th may), a total of 62 incidents of forest fires have been recorded in the state, Jai Raj, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Uttarakhand Forest Department, told media.
He further said, “Social media is trying to make hype out of it. The pictures being shared on social media are of crown fires – when the fire rises up the trees to the top. The photos are not from Uttarakhand.”
No crown fire has taken place in Uttarakhand this year and these photos are misleading, he added. “We only have ground fires – the bushes and grasses are burnt.”
According to Raj, Uttarakhand had lost more than 1,200 hectares in the massive forest fires in May last year. “Compared to that, we have not even crossed the 100-hectare mark (this year),” he said.
In a statement on Facebook, the Uttarakhand Forest Department also pointed out that many of the photos were from older incidents or other countries.
(There was a reference image shared on Let Me Breathe social media accounts with this information. The images were of another forest fire and used only as a reference and have since been replaced.)