It started on the southern slope of the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary on 16-Apr. We were on a walk with our guests to a picnic spot near Katdhara village when we first saw the fire and reported it to the forest department. This was not very wide-spread and was relatively localized.
The next time we noticed a fire in the Sanctuary was on 25-Apr, while returning with our guests from the sunrise walk to Zero Point. We were walking back along the Jhandi Dhar (the main Binsar ridge) and noticed a fire on the northern slope of the Sanctuary, near Satri village. This fire spread rapidly to all parts of the Sanctuary. The fire in an oak forest is largely a ground fire – it is the dried leaves and the undergrowth that burns and most trees survive the fire. By 27-Apr, the fire was climbing up towards the core area of the Sanctuary (Satkhol), with the Retreat, being on the periphery, standing in its way. We moved our guests to a friends’ property near Mukteshwar. By the next day, though, we had managed to contain it and prevent it from spreading into Satkhol. And on 29-Apr, our guests came back and enjoyed the rest of their holiday with us. By 1-May, the forest department had put down the last of the fires in Binsar and we have not had a fire in the Sanctuary since then. We have had guests staying with us since 29-Apr and we have been largely unaffected by the fire.
The forest department has worked several days and nights at a stretch over the past 2 weeks to contain and put down the fire, with help from some of the residents of the Sanctuary. We would like to thank them for their commitment and dedication. We would also like to thank some of our guests who have written to us and were concerned for our safety. We are safe and enjoying ourselves, with the prospect of rain adding to our joy.
In conclusion, Binsar is safe and free of fire as of now. We have secured the Retreat with a fire-line around us and combined with the fact that most of the dried leaves are burnt in the Sanctuary, the chances of a repeat fire are slim.