Sundar Sharma, Coordinator, UNISDR Regional South Asia Wildland Fire Network
Nepal has experienced unprecedented increased wildfire incidents during the current (2009-2010) winter fire season. Winter season fires generally occur from mid-November to February and confined to the high altitude Hindu Kush Himalaya region.
54 fire incidences were reported only in 6 days from 8 to 13 January 2010 in the country (comparing that of only 1 fire in last season) (Figure 2) and mostly affected areas were Khaptad National Park (NP), Annapurna Conservation area (CA), Manaslu CA, Langtang NP, Dhor Patan Hunting Reserves, Shey-Phoksundo National Park and Kanchanjungha Conservation Area (Figure 1). According to the news reports, more than 3000 hectares forested areas were severely affected killing many wild animals though there was no human casualties or injuries reported.
Figure 1. Satellite image with locations of active fires in Nepal burning on 11 January 2009. Source: FIRMS-MODIS/UMD/NASA
The trend of fire occurrence is increasing (Figure 2). 26% of fire increased this year winter fire season compared to that of last year.
Figure 2. Comparison of daily fire incidence during the Winter fire season of 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. Data source: FIRMS-MODIS/UMD/NASA)
For information on severe fires in spring of 2009 in Nepal which involved large damages and fatalities of civilians and firefighters, see:
Thirteen army personnel lost their lives in Ramechhap in Central Nepal on Thursday (April 23) while a soldier and four locals in Gulmi district in the western region were killed Saturday (April 25) when they were trying to extinguish wildfires, local media reported. Another person was reported killed Saturday in Dang district. Dozens of others have reportedly died this year due to fires.