India — For the second year running, the Indian Air Force (IAF) helped in dousing a blaze on the Japhu Peak close to Kohima in Nagaland. This year, the fire was spotted on Thursday morning. It had spread to a radius of 6-7 km. The Government of Nagaland sought assistance from the IAF’s Eastern Air Command.
“On Friday, the IAF positioned two Mi17 V5 helicopters at Rangapahar close to Dimapur to operate simultaneously. On Saturday, the helicopters flew six shuttles and five on Sunday. They were flown by Wing Commanders Rawat and Vikram Singh. The helicopters returned to base on Sunday after the fire was doused,” said Gr Capt Amit Mahajan, PRO, Defence, Shillong.
There was a blaze in the forests on Mt Japhu in 2014 as well. This year, the area of destruction was lesser and doused early. In February, 2014, the first attempt was made by the IAF to fight a fire using Bambi buckets. The same equipment was used in the last couple of days.
A Bambi bucket is slung beneath a helicopter and can carry 2,500 litres of water in one attempt. The buckets hang 25 metres below the belly of helicopters and can dispense water from a height of nearly 10,000 feet.
“It would be pertinent to note that helicopters were used for the first time to fight forest fires in India in 2014. In addition to being instrumental in containing a potentially catastrophic environmental disaster, the presence of IAF helicopters is a morale booster for the local populance. The IAF reaffirms its commitment towards humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in support of the nation,” Mahajan added.