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In Himachal Pradesh over 450 cases of forest fires were reported in 1995. In addition to accidental wildfires, controlled burning has been used traditionally for forest clearances by villagers for various purposes and as a means of management to promote the regeneration of desired tree species or the re-growth of grazing plants including grasses. Controlled burning has been used as a genuine forest management measure in the US for decades.

But sometimes the forest fires do get out of control as it happened in the famous Yellowstone National Park in the US and in Indonesia in 1997. Recently in India, large areas of Chir (pine) forests were burnt in Uttaranchal. However, in Western Europe, especially Britain, heath lands are burnt at intervals of 10-12 years to maintain a dense uniform stand of heather.

There had been a prolonged dry spell during the summer of 1999, which resulted in a large number of forest fires in Himachal Pradesh. In Uttaranchal region, the Forest Department of Kumaun division said that forest fires are by and large caused by man-made reasons (The Times of India, April 30, 1999).

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