Massive Fire in Dzukou Valley on Manipur-Nagaland Border

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News Desk

A massive fire has broken out in the famed Dzukou Valley located on the border of Manipur and Nagaland, causing damage to the environment and the popular tourist spot, officials said. Over 200 acres of forestland on Mount Iso in Manipur have been reduced to ashes in the wildfires. In Kohima, the Nagaland State Disaster Management Authority (NSDMA) officials said the massive fire broke out due to unknown reason. The official said that they requested the Indian Air Force choppers to douse the fire.

Some reports said that volunteers of Southern Angami Youth Association, a Nagaland-based organization which is engaged in the valley’s protection, rushed to the iconic valley, situated at an altitude of 2,452 metres above the sea level to assess the damages and causes of the fire. “The quantum of damage from the incident is not yet ascertained. The blaze in the valley was so huge that it was visible from Kohima. Due to the strong winds, the fire is expected to move further towards the main valley,” an NSDMA official said.

The fire has been raging in the Dzukou Valley along the Manipur-Nagaland border since December 29, 2020. Joint operations by the Centre, state agencies and local volunteers to contain the blaze has been scaled up.

Dzukou Valley covers Senapati (Manipur) and Kohima (Nagaland) districts. It is a popular tourist and trekking destination known for its beautiful flowers and crystal-clear streams. It is located at an altitude of 2,452 m, the valley is a 4 hour trek from Kohima.

The Manipur chief minister’s office on said efforts to extinguish the wildfire in the hill ranges of Dzuko Valley in Senapati district continuing (as of now). After a thorough analysis of the landscape by a combined team of Senapati police, fire service and local volunteers, a stretch of 500 metres was cleared between the third and second mountain ranges of Mt Iso. The team successfully prevented spread of the fire towards the eastern side by using sand and fire extinguisher. However, the fires still continued on the southern and western side and approximately more than 200 acres of Mount Iso range had already been reduced to cinders.

The fire on the Nagaland side was “under” control and it could be contained in another two days as operations to check the spread has been scaled up manifold in both states

Four IAF choppers sprayed eight tons of water on the affected spots. Seven NDRF teams are engaged in the operations with government personnel and local volunteers, including making over 3km of fire lines to check the spread of the blaze. IAF choppers lifted the water from Dimapur for spraying in the valley and made six deployments during the day. IAF also said the “Bambi bucket” or spraying water operation has been conducted.

How does a Bambi bucket work?

It is a collapsible bucket using a pilot-controlled valve that can deliver a concentrated column of water from the helicopter to the fire. It is now widely used by forest and land management agencies in most countries.

C-130J Hercules of IAF airlifted Fire Fighting Equipment and 48 NDRF personnel frm Guwahati to Dimapur. Three drones were also used by the IAF to ascertain the spread of the fire and the damage. Extent of the damage can be understood after getting the pictures, which could not be transferred because there is no mobile network in the affected areas and satellite phone is also not working. Chopper Mi-17V5 have been deployed to assist fight the fire, after being requested by the Nagaland government.

The NDRF has deployed three teams in Nagaland and four in Manipur, totaling around 280 personnel. Steep terrain has hampered the containment of the wildfire which has destroyed bamboo shrubs in the upper slopes and is gradually spreading to thick forests located on the lower slopes because of strong winds.

Manipur public health engineering minister Losii Dikho, currently camping at Mao, around 14km from the valley, to supervise the operation, chaired another round of review meeting with the representatives of Senapati district administration, police, NDRF, SDRF and fire services officials and decided that a base camp would be set up at the eastern side of Mt Iso to conduct the operations. About 100 personnel from Nagaland are camping in the affected areas.

Forest fires and climate change

When trees are burnt by fire natural, or at the hands of humans, they release into the atmosphere the carbon stored in them. In this way, they are like coal. This is why, the effect of wildfires on emissions is among the most feared climate feedback loops. Forests which are carbon sinks of the world become carbon sources, unleashing all the stored gas.

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