Two Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters made 73 sorties and poured over 1,82,000 liters of water today to control the wildfire in Rajasthan's Mount Abu and prevented flames from spreading to inhabited areas.
The blaze is now much under control and the fire fighting operation is likely to continue tomorrow to fully douse the flames in the entire forest area, officials said.
Fire broke out yesterday morning in Mount Abu close to the famous sunset and honeymoon point prompting the district administration to rope in one suitably modified IAF MI-17VS helicopter.
Today, the IAF stepped up the efforts and pressed into service another helicopter from Gujarat's Jamnagar.
Both the helicopters conducted 73 sorties and ferried water from Nakki lake to spray over the fire ravaged areas of the Aravali hills.
"Wing Commander Thiagaraman and Squadron Leader Praveen Tiwari had flown 73 sorties since morning today dropping over 1,82,000 liters over the areas in the immediate vicinity of the town," Defence Spokesperson Lt Col Manish Ojha said.
He said that the places under fire close to inhabited areas were given the priority in the fire fighting operation.
Fires close to the Sunset Point, Anadhara, Honeymoon point, Gurushikhar ridge line and around Nakki lake were put out during the sorties today.
The helicopters, which are from two from different units-one from Phalodi in Jodhpur and the other from Jamnagar in Gujarat, will be standing by tonight at Abu Road helipad to take up any more missions tomorrow, if called for.
"The fire is now under much control. The flames are there at isolated areas and will be contained tomorrow," SP Sirohi Sandeep Singh said.
Thousands of tourists from within Rajasthan, the neighbouring state of Gujarat and other parts of the country visit Mount Abu during summers.
Tourists have been asked to avoid going to sunset point and honeymoon point till the flames are doused fully.
"The fire was not very far from sunset point and honeymoon point yesterday so both the places were evacuated. Besides these two, there are other tourist points in Mount and they are unaffected,” Circle Officer Abu Parvat Vijay Pal Singh said.
Singh said that tourists have been asked to stay away from to both the places till the fire is totally under control.
"Since the flames have not been fully doused, the tourists have been asked to not go to those points as a precautionary measure because it becomes difficult to evacuate the places in case of an operation," he said.
Besides, boating activity in Nakki lake has been restricted as the helicopters are fetching water from the lake.
The lake is located in the middle of the town, nestled between the hills.
The Circle Officer said that the fire in forests is a reccurring phenomenon but it was a massive fire this time.
"Reason of the fire is not clear but bamboo trees in the forest sometimes cause wildfire while some locals fetch honey and for they ignite fire for this process which can also lead to the fire in the forest," Singh said.
Located 1722 meters above the sea level and situated amidst the lush green hills on the highest point of the Aravali range, Mount Abu is the home to lakes, waterfalls and green forests and many religious monuments.