It was 11 in the morning, as we heard someone shout in the distance ‘Aag lagi!’ It was a massive forest fire – the kind we had never seen before, let alone fought. What seemed like a ‘normal incident ’to those living here, was completely foreign to us. Stricken by fear and terror, we had no idea what to do.
Fighting the fire
In a matter of minutes, we watched as the entire camp rushed to douse the forest fire – people united regardless of age and gender. Instantly, we created a chain to pass buckets filled with water. Immediately after, numerous forest rangers responded to the threat by creating a firebreak – a gap of vegetation that would act as a barrier to suppress the fire.
Rebuilding the lost.
What was once a lush green forest is now a pile of ashes. It is our job to regenerate what we have lost as a community. But how do you rebuild something that takes decades to create? As insignificant as it may sound, it all begins with a tiny seed. We as a community are trying to plant as much as we can to do our part in saving the forest. No matter how small, with every step and every seed, we can make a big difference to our path towards a better, greener world.
What causes a forest fire?
According to the forest department, the most common reasons of forest fires are:
- People throw still-burning cigarettes / bidis into the forest, where dry leaves catch fire.
- Friction between dry branches of trees sometimes causes sparks, which may start a fire.
The forest department fights forest fire propagation by creating fire-lines and burning fire-prone dry vegetation before the fire season starts in the summer.
In case you come across a forest fire,
DO NOT PANIC! Follow the instructions below according to your situation:
Preparation for a forest fire:
- Have an evacuation route in place along with a safe location to turn to.
- Attempt to remove all combustibles from your house and its surrounding regions such as wood, dry plants, yard waste etc
- Shut off any natural gas lines present
- Find large vessels and keep them prepared in case you need to use them to suppress the fire.
Deal with the fire:
- Contact the forest department.
- If there are any gas lines in range of the upcoming fire, turn them off
- Create a Fire-line: Conduct a controlled burn around the perimeter of a forest fire. A controlled burn will allow you to cut off the fuel source of the larger fire by already burning off the dry plants. Often, after creating a fire-line, it’s considered advisable to douse it with water in order to suppress the fire.
- Use water as a fire suppression tool. Ensure to drench any structures that are close to the fires and
In case the fire gets too close and fighting it isn’t an option anymore:
- Attempt to conduct an evacuation and head to a region of safety, preferably in a vehicle.
- If it’s too close, don’t run. Outrunning a fire isn’t a sensible option in the relevant region as you’re surrounded by a forest.
- Look for a body of water such as a pond or a river to crouch in it.
- If there is no water body nearby, find a depressed area of land with little or no vegetation and wet your clothing and body. Next, cover as much of your body as possible with soil or a wet blanket, or if possible, both.
- Breathe the air closest to the ground through a wet cloth in order to avoid inhaling smoke.