SRINAGAR: A prolonged dry spell this year has kept the Fire and Emergency Services busy. Officials say that incidents of fire have gone up by nearly 35 percent this year.
With a daily average of 22-23 fires reported across Kashmir division, the about 100 fire and emergency stations in the Valley have been busy trying to limit the damage this season.
Altaf Hussain, duty officer at the Divisional Control Room Srinagar, told Kashmir Reader that fire incidents in the Valley usually see a spike in winters, mainly due to electric short circuits, charcoal making, and negligence in handling traditional fire and heating gadgets, but this season has witnessed a marked rise in such incidents.
“Last year, we were tackling about 15 fire incidents daily on an average, but this time the average is around 22. Some days have reported more than thirty-five fire incidents,” Hussain said.
He attributed the increase to the prevalent dry spell.
“This dry spell has created a situation where fire spreads faster, mostly in forest areas where fallen and dry material from trees makes the ground highly inflammable,” he said. He added that timely rains and snow could have limited the loss significantly.
When asked about forest fires, Hussain said that firemen along with forest officials form squads to douse such fires. They use the equipment at their disposal, and at times containing these raging fires becomes difficult.
“We do dispatch fire tenders if access is available. The rest of it has to be tackled manually by using fire beaters,” he said.
The officer said that this year, due to scanty rainfall, fire incidents around water bodies, too, have been high, with reeds and other grasses growing around lakes and marsh catching fire.
Some of the fire incidents in homes have reportedly been caused by use of electric blankets, he said.
Hussain said that the fire department’s understanding of the causes of fire is that the electric wiring of homes is unable to withstand the load of machines. Apart from this, charcoal making and fires set in fields or bonfires also trigger fires. Hussain called for people to remain more vigilant during this season.
The Fire & Emergency Services J&K was established in the year 1893 as Srinagar Fire Brigade. It now has its headquarters in Srinagar and collects data on fire incidents of the whole Kashmir province.