Six-fold increase in forest fires as temperatures rise in many states

Six-fold increase in forest fires as temperatures rise in many states

By Ishan Kukreti | Last Updated: Friday 10 May 2019

The Forest Survey of India’s large forest fires monitoring programme data shows that there are 192 large, active fires in the country today

As many states face higher than normal maximum temperature, instances of large fires have increased more than six times across the country within this week.

The Forest Survey of India’s (FSI’s) large forest fires monitoring programme data shows that there are 192 large, active fires in the country today (May 10). This figure was at 30 when this week began.

Highest number of fires is being reported from Uttarakhand (91), Chhattisgarh (36), Madhya Pradesh (17) and Uttar Pradesh (11). The corresponding figures for the instances of large fires on May 6 for these states were 4, 7, 4 and 2 respectively.

According to the India Metrological Department (IMD) data, on May 9, maximum temperatures were 3.1 to 5 degree Celsius above normal at most places in Uttarakhand, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, east Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Marathwada and coastal Andhra Pradesh.

The highest maximum temperature was recorded at Banda (east Uttar Pradesh) at 46.2° C. Uttarakhand has seen a sudden spurt in large fire instances, as temperatures peaked along with a rain deficit.

“The main reason for the spike in these large fire incidences is increase in temperature and rain fall deficit. Temperatures across the state have risen by at least 4° C, and there has been no rain since last week. We have all the resources at work to control the fires and prevent the loss of flora and fauna across the state,” Uttarakhand chief conservator of forest (forest fire and disaster management) PK Singh told Down to Earth.

The total number of fire incidences in the state, including but not limited to the large fire instances recorded by FSI, stands at 473 on May 10 — affecting 644 hectares of forest area. So far, five people have been injured and five animals have died in the fire. The loss caused by the fires is estimated to be around Rs 10.53 crore.

Link: https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/climate-change/six-fold-increase-in-forest-fires-as-temperatures-rise-in-many-states-64475

Contract signed to lease helicopters to help fight forest fires

Contract signed to lease helicopters to help fight forest fires

By: ANNETTE CHRYSOSTOMOU | MAY 10TH, 2019

The forestry department has signed a contract with a private company for the lease of two helicopters to fight fires during the summer, the department announced on Friday.

The contract is valid for this and next year, with an option to renew it in 2021.

The amount to be paid per year is €1,599,250 excluding VAT, slightly less than last year.

According to the announcement, the forestry department will be responsible for the management of the contract while the fire services will have operational control.

A request to include the cost for the two leased helicopters in the newly created ‘rescEU transition’ is being prepared and will be submitted to the European Commission.

The Republic of Cyprus, under this mechanism, will receive financial support which may cover as much as 75 percent of the cost for the fire-fighting aircraft.

The European Commission’s proposal to strengthen the EU’s collective response to natural disasters, rescEU entered into force on March 21.

Numerous disasters have affected regions of Europe in recent years, causing hundreds of casualties and billions in damage to infrastructure.

To protect member states better, “the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the Commission reached an agreement last December to strengthen the existing EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The upgraded EU Civil Protection Mechanism establishes a new European reserve of capacities (the so-called rescEU reserve), including firefighting planes and helicopters, while boosting disaster prevention and preparedness measures,” the European Commission said.

To ensure that Europe is prepared for this year’s forest fire season the new legislation includes a transition phase during which participating states can get funding in exchange for putting their firefighting means at the disposal of the EU.

Link: https://cyprus-mail.com/2019/05/10/contract-signed-to-lease-helicopters-to-help-fight-forest-fires/

Firefighters rush to tackle 35-acre wildfire near Sugar Pine Reservoir: ‘We’ve got a north wind’

Firefighters rush to tackle 35-acre wildfire near Sugar Pine Reservoir: ‘We’ve got a north wind’

A small wildfire is underway at Sugar Pine Road and Big Reservoir Lane, about five miles northeast of Foresthill in Placer County, according to a Cal Fire tweet Friday afternoon.
Sugar Pine Road is currently closed, officials said, and visitors are being asked to avoid the area.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and Foresthill Fire Protection District are assisting U.S. Forest Service officials with the Sugar Fire, said Joe Flannery, a spokesman for the Tahoe National Forest.
By 5:30 p.m., the fire had burned 25 to 35 acres with more than 100 personnel responding, Flannery said.
The personnel included four hand crews, six engines, two helicopters, two water tenders, a bulldozer, Flannery said. Three air tankers that were performing fire retardant drops during the afternoon had been dismissed.
Crews will be doing fire containment through the night, Flannery said. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
The fire started at 12:38 p.m. Friday, said Mary Eldridge, a Cal Fire spokeswoman.
“We’ve got a north wind so every resource available is heading out there,” Eldridge said at about 3 p.m. Friday.
The fire is located two miles southeast of Sugar Pine Reservoir and the Forbes Creek campground and about 10 miles east of Colfax.
This is the first wildfire in the four-county Sacramento region this year. There have been several other small wildfires in Butte County.Link: https://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/fires/article230280194.html

Regime seeks neighbours’ help on smog

Regime seeks neighbors’ help on smog

Laos, Myanmar sent letters on North crisis

10 Apr 2019 at 12:53

WRITER: GREGORY MORRISSEY

ORIGINAL SOURCE/WRITER: POST REPORTERS

The government has sought cooperation from Myanmar and Laos to help mitigate haze, which is wreaking havoc in the North, according to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Gen Prayut said the bush fires and haze in the northern provinces have diminished, though the situation also depends on neighboring countries.

“I yesterday wrote to Laos and Myanmar asking them to help us tackle these problems,” said Gen Prayut.

He said Thai officials on the ground are also working with their Myanmar counterparts to deal with the issue, including sharing equipment to douse fires.

Gen Prayut also called on firefighters to be cautious about combatting bush fires. In the areas where fires are raging, they should consider making buffer zones to defend wildlife, he noted.

“As for those who start the fires, they must face prosecution as they violated the law,” said Gen Prayut.

According to the premier, the government has devised several measures to combat haze, including seeking cooperation from companies to refrain from buying crops from farmers who encroach on forest land or conduct inappropriate farming practices.

Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said the number of bush fires in the nine northern provinces dropped from almost 2,000 on April 2 to around 300 on Tuesday.

“Well, cooperation has been given by local people overall, but some residents are still setting fires in the forest, so a better understanding must be created and this may take time,” said Gen Anupong.

Meanwhile, 15 tampons have joined a campaign to prepare for the impact of global warming.

Eight tambon administrative organizations (TAO) recently signed an agreement to develop a learning center for environmental management and global warming mitigation at a tourist service center in Chiang Rai’s Thoeng district.

These TAOs are from Si Sa Ket, Ubon Ratchathani, Chaiyaphum, Udon Thani, Chiang Mai, Prachin Buri, and Chiang Rai. Another seven TAOs, which had earlier participated in the campaign, was also present.

They formed part of a network called “Smart Camp: Smart Network: Smart Community” operating under the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth).


Vocabulary:

buffer: a thing or person that reduces a shock or protects somebody/something against difficulties – ตัวกัน

counterpart (noun): someone who has the same job or purpose as another person, but in a different country, time, situation or organization – คนที่อยู่ในตำแหน่งเดียวกันของอีกประเทศ หรือ กลุ่มหนึ่ง

diminish: to gradually become less – ลดลง, อ่อนแรง

douse (verb): to pour a lot of liquid over somebody/something; to soak somebody/something in liquid สาดน้ำหรือของเหลว, จุ่มในของเหลว – สาดน้ำหรือของเหลว, จุ่มในของเหลว

encroach: to gradually enter, cover or take control of more and more of an area of land or sea – บุกรุก, ล่วงล้ำ

haze: water, smoke or dust in the air that makes it difficult to see clearly – หมอกควัน

mitigate: to make something less harmful or serious – บรรเทา

mitigation: a reduction in the harmful effects of something – การบรรเทา  การผ่อนคลาย

wreaking havoc: causing something bad to happen in a violent and often uncontrolled way – ทำให้เกิด ความเสียหายอย่างรุนแรง, ทำให้เกิดความหายนะ

Link: https://www.bangkokpost.com/learning/easy/1659628/regime-seeks-neighbours-help-on-smog

Responders Quickly Extinguish One of Korea’s Largest Wildfires

Responders Quickly Extinguish One of Korea’s Largest Wildfires

Two people are dead and hundreds displaced after a massive fire swept through several towns in South Korea’s northeastern Gangwon province last week. The blaze was extinguished within a few days thanks to quick action from emergency responders, despite high winds that hindered the use of firefighting helicopters and helped the fire spread more quickly.

Authorities are calling this one of the largest fires in South Korean history – it destroyed at least 470 homes, almost 200 warehouses, and dozens of farms, and killed more than 41,000 livestock. One person died from the fire and one was killed after being struck by debris. Investigators believe the fire began from a transformer spark in the evening of April 5. Local firefighters, South Korean soldiers, and even American service members stationed nearby quickly jumped in to fight the flames, bringing the bulk of the fire under control within a few days.

With the fire extinguished, the region is now shifting to recovery. President Moon Jae-in declared a state of emergency on Saturday to provide extra emergency funding for the area, and Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon told ministers not to hesitate in devoting more resources to the region as they start the rebuilding process. Disaster management was one of Moon’s 12 main pledges during his presidential campaign, and he has made a swift response to emergencies a cornerstone of his plan to build a “Safe South Korea.”

Moon pledged to restore Gangwon province’s forests as soon as possible and to fund prevention efforts to deter future fires. “Gangwon province experiences fires year by year, so in order to fight wildfires we need to build forest roads and procure needed helicopters,” Moon said, referring to roads that could provide obstacles and slow the spread of large wildfires among Gangwon’s extremely flammable pine forests. Although emergency responders stopped the massive fire’s spread quite quickly, people still pointed out room for improvement for the future. Because of the poor weather conditions, particularly high winds, South Korea’s fleet of firefighting helicopters was grounded for extended periods of time. And major broadcasters have drawn criticism for failing to provide sign language interpretation during emergency broadcasts about the blaze. Activists gathered this week for a rally and submitted a petition to South Korea’s National Human Rights Commission calling for required sign language translation for TV programs, particularly during emergencies. Others have pointed out the need to address some of the factors that may have exacerbated the problem before it even started, including droughts and other climate change-related issues.

Meanwhile, the Korean public has stepped up to help those affected by the devastating blaze. According to the Chosun Ilbo, donations to two major disaster relief agencies topped 10 billion won ($8.8 million) as of April 8. In particular, celebrities have stepped up to raise awareness, with singers like Psy and IU personally donating 100 million won ($88,000) each to the relief effort.

One of the biggest ongoing concerns is whether the Gangwon region, famous for hiking and beaches, will rebuild in time for the lucrative tourist season. To help encourage tourists to visit the province, Korail is offering30 percent off train tickets to the area on their new Gangneung Line, which was completed last year ahead of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Korail is also providing free train tickets to anyone who has volunteered with the recovery effort.

Despite some clear room for improvement, quick action from local emergency responders prevented one of Korea’s largest wildfires from being even more destructive. As victims and volunteers continue the cleanup and rebuilding effort, the focus will turn to ensure the flow of government and public support into the region and prevention efforts aimed at stopping the next fire before it starts.

Jenna Gibson is a doctoral student in political science at the University of Chicago and a Korea blogger for The Diplomat. You can find her on Twitter at @jennargibson.

Link: https://thediplomat.com/2019/04/responders-quickly-extinguish-one-of-koreas-largest-wildfires/

Fire burns almost 1,700 hectares of land, forests in Riau as haze spreads

Fire burns almost 1,700 hectares of land, forests in Riau as haze spreads

PUBLISHED MAR 10, 2019, 8:42 PM SGT

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – A forest fire in Indonesia’s Riau province that has been burning for more than a week has expanded as haze spreads to more cities in the area.

The Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD Riau) revealed that, as of Sunday (March 10), the fire had spread across nearly 1,700 hectares of land from a little over 1,100 ha on Feb 28, causing smoke in Pekanbaru and Dumai.

BPBD Riau acting head Ahmadsyah Harrofie said Bengkalis regency was currently the worst affected area, as quoted by tempo.co.

Forest fires are still spreading throughout Dumai, Meranti Islands and five other regencies. Ahmadsyah said the agency’s task force was continuing its attempt to extinguish fires in all areas.

Riau Forest Rescue Network (Jikalahari) coordinator Made Ali added that 63 out of 139 hot spots this week could potentially further ignite a fire.

However, he said that the air condition in Pekanbaru remained “good”.

According to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), the air pollution standard index (ISPU) in Pekanbaru and Dumai is still at an “acceptable” level.

Link: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/fire-burns-almost-1700-hectares-of-land-forests-in-riau-as-haze-spreads