Uttarakhand Forest Fires: IAF Conducts Bambi Bucket Ops As Blaze In Almora Kills 4; CM Dhami Announces Ex-Gratia

The blaze claimed the lives of four forest workers and injured four others at the sanctuary under the Civil Soyam Forest Division, officials said.

IAF carries out Bambi Bucket ops in Almora. Photo: X/@IAF_MCC

The Indian Air Force intervened and undertook Bambi Bucket operations to extinguish the blazing forest fires in Uttarakhand's Almora district in the wee hours of Saturday.

The action comes after the State administration requested assistance in dousing the uncontrollable fire at the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary on Thursday.

A 'Bambi Bucket' is a helicopter bucket, where an IAF aircraft carries a lightweight container, collects water and releases over targeted fires.

The blaze claimed the lives of four forest workers and injured four others at the sanctuary under the Civil Soyam Forest Division, officials said.

The deceased were identified as Binsar Range Forest 'Beat' Officer Trilok Singh Mehta, 'Fire Watcher' Karan Arya, Provincial Armed Constabulary Jawan Puran Singh and daily wage worker Diwan Ram.

Civil Soyam Forest Divisional Officer Dhruv Singh Martolia said that the fire broke out around 3:45 pm when the eight forest workers were sent to extinguish the blaze.

As soon as the team got down from their vehicle, the fire escalated due to strong winds, charring the four of the workers to death, Martolia said. Meanwhile, the injured workers were rushed to the Haldwani Base Hospital to for treatment.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami condoled the unfortunate demise of the four workers. He announced an ex-gratia amount of Rs 10 lakh to the families of each deceased.

"In this hour of grief, our government stands with the families of the deceased and is committed to provide all possible help," he said in a X post.

"Instructions have been given to immediately airlift the injured forest workers to Haldwani Base Hospital. I pray to God for peace to the souls of the deceased and speedy recovery of the injured," Dhami added.

He noted that a high-level meeting with the Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary and Chief Conservator of Forests (HoFF). Dhami said, "...instructions were given to immediately control the forest fire in Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary with the help of Air Force, by spraying water on the affected forest area using helicopters and other necessary resources as before and to control the fire as quickly as possible."

Special Secretary to the Chief Minister, Parag Madhukar Dhakate said that the situation is being monitored closely. The post-mortem of the deceased is being conducted, officials said.

Last month, a resin factory in Almora was engulfed in the forest fire and three workers were killed while trying to extinguish the fire.

Forest fires have been taking over Uttarakhand in view of the heatwave situation and dry weather. As per the state forest fire bulletin, seven such incidents were reported in the last 24 hours in which 4.50 hectares of forest were affected.

(With PTI inputs)