Uttarakhand is not being ravaged by forest fires as recent social media posts will have you believe, the state’s chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said on Wednesday. Rawat said that old photos of forest fires in the hill state were being repurposed to create a “misleading” impression on social media.

The incidents of forest fires this year are “way less” than last year, Rawat said, while retweeting a graphic posted by the Indian Forest Service Association of Uttarakhand. According to the graphic, less than 100 hectres of area has been affected by forest fires as of May 25. Comparatively, around 1,600 hectres of area was under the brunt of forest fires by the same time year.

In its tweet, the forest service association said, “There are very sporadic incidents.”

These responses come at time when social media has been abuzz with frightening photos of fires devouring forests. The photos have been accompanied by pleas for help and dire, end-of-the-world predictions.

Putting the rumours to rest, Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat tweeted on Wednesday that these social media posts were using pictures of forest fires from 2016 and 2019. Some of the photos, Rawat added, were actually from forest fires in Chile and China.

“A misleading propaganda, using old pics of forest fires of 2016 & 2019 & that of forest fires in Chilean & Chinese forests, is raging on SM [social media],” Rawat said in his tweet. “I req [request] everyone to not believe such motivated campaign. Fire incidents reported until yesterday is way less than PY.”

Forest fires are not uncommon in Uttarakhand, which is probably what led to many falling for the recent social media posts. The forest fire season in Uttarakhand ranges from March to May, peaking in April.

Last year and 2016 saw particularly distressing incidents of forest fires. This year, however, has been different, according to the government. In a different tweet, IFS Association Uttarakhand said that there have been “very less fire incidences” this year.

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