2020 Uttarakhand forest fires

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2020 Uttarakhand forest fires
Burned areaApproximately 71 hectares (180 acres)
Non-fatal injuries1

The 2020 Uttarakhand forest fires started in late May, after several forest fires broke out in Srinagar of Pauri Garhwal district in Uttarakhand, India. As of 24 May 2020, 46 fires were reported covering around 71 hectares and 2 people have died.[1][2][3]


The state of Uttarakhand in north India is primarily mountainous, with the northern part of the state lying within the Greater Himalayas. According to the Government of India, as of 2014, 71% of the land of the state is forested.[4] In total, the forest cover in Uttarakhand stretches to 24000 square kilometers, and extends through several protected regions, and biodiversity hotspots in the Himalayan region.[5]

Naturally-occurring forest fires are a regular summer occurrence in the state, and the State Government of Uttarakhand's prevention methods including collecting pine needles from forested areas, spreading awareness to limit man-made fires, and maintaining local alert systems.[6][7] The usual season for such naturally occurring fires is between February and June, i.e. during the Indian summer months, when temperatures are high and there is limited to no rainfall.[8]

Cause and spread[]

In the last week of May 2020, Indian news media began reporting events of extensive and unprecedent rates of forest fires in the state of Uttarakhand.[9][10] Initial reports suggested that the fires were primarily in the Kumaon region, but also confirmed that there were mutliple, separate incidents of forest fires occurring throughout the state's forest cover.[9][10] On 26 May 2020, the Times of India reported that there had been 46 incidents of forest fire in the state, resulting in a loss of 51.34 hectares (0.5134 km2) of forest cover.[11]

In October 2020, forest officials reported continued incidents of forest fires, which were stated to be 'untimely' for that time of the year. Forest officials described these fires as being caused by an unseasonable heatwave and period of dry weather.[12][8]


It led to a large damage to plants, animals etc.[citation needed]


Initial reports of forest fires in Uttarakhand in May were met with denials by the State Government. The Uttarakhand State Department's Conservator, Dr Parag Madhukar, stated that visuals of forest fires being circulated in the media were fake.[9] Another Forest Department official, on 26 May 2020, described the spread of the fires in 2020 as a "record low" for the region.[5] On 27 May 2020, Jai Raj the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests for the Uttarakhand Forest Department stated that fake images circulating on social media had produced misleading beliefs in the spread of the fires, as these indicated crown fires, whereas forest fires in Uttarakhand were primarily limited to the ground level.[13] On 28 May 2020, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat stated that he had instructed the Uttarakhand Police to register First Information Reports against any person spreading rumors about forest fires in the state.[14]



  1. ^ Azad, Shivani (24 May 2020). "46 wildfires recorded in state till date, 51.43 hectare forest cover gutted". The Times of India. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  2. ^ "Forest fire breaks out in Uttarakhand". ANI News. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  3. ^ "Forest Fire in Uttarakhand Leaves 71 Hectares of Land Destroyed; PIB Says Wildfire Incidents Dropped This Year, Shares Graph". LatestLY. 26 May 2020. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  4. ^ "Forest Survey of India" (PDF). Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change, Government of India. 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Fact Check: Experts Say Uttarakhand Forest Fires at Record Low as Cries to #SaveTheHimalayas Trend | The Weather Channel - Articles from The Weather Channel | weather.com". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  6. ^ Azad, Shivani (27 June 2020). "Uttarakhand forest fires down by 93% | Dehradun News - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  7. ^ Pacha, Aswathi (11 July 2020). "Understanding forest fires and their effect on carbon emissions". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  8. ^ a b "Uttarakhand: Uptick in untimely forest fires, fewer blazes during regular season". The Indian Express. 6 December 2020. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  9. ^ a b c "Uttarakhand Forest Fire: Devastating Visuals Surface from State, #PrayForUttarakhand Trends on Twitter". News18. 27 May 2020. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  10. ^ a b "Forest fires reported from Uttarakhand". Times of India Travel. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  11. ^ Azad, Shivani (24 May 2020). "46 wildfires recorded in state till date, 51.43 hectare forest cover gutted". The Times of India. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  12. ^ Azad, Shivani (20 October 2020). "Uttarakhand experiences untimely forest fires in Oct; experts blame climate change". The Times of India. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  13. ^ Basu, Mohana (27 May 2020). "Fake social media photos exaggerating Uttarakhand forest fires situation: Forest official". ThePrint. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  14. ^ ANI (28 May 2020). "Uttarakhand Police to file FIR against those spreading forest fire rumours". Business Standard India. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
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