Youth dies while dousing forest fire in Pithoragarh

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Pithoragarh (Uttarakhand), Apr 12 (PTI) A youth died while dousing a wildfire in his village in the Didihat forest range in Uttarakhand's Pithoragarh district, officials said on Monday.

The incident occurred on Saturday when a fire broke out in Athkhawli and Sarpanch Puran Singh Mehta called youths from the village to extinguish the blaze, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Vinay Bhargava said.

The victim, Pankaj Singh Deopa (19), fell into a 500-metre-deep, fire-filled gorge, the officer said, adding he was pulled out of it and rushed to a hospital where doctors declared him dead.

Deopa had lost his job during the coronavirus-induced lockdown and was staying with his family in the village.

His death took the toll in forest fire in Uttarakhand this year to seven. Two deaths were reported in Almora in January and two each in Bageshwar and Pauri districts in February.

Forest fires continue to rage in Pithoragarh and Champawat districts in the eastern part of Kumaon region due to a lack of moisture in the forests, with little or no rain during the winter months in the area this year, according to the DFO.

'In the last 55 days of the fire season, green cover over 326.25 hectares in Pithoragarh and 50 hectares in Champawat has been destroyed, 'Bhargava said. PTI CORR ALM MGA SMN