Raging forest fire destroys trees, medicinal herbs in Kupwara 

Kupwara: A widespread forest fire has been raging  in several  forest compartments of  northern  Kupwara  district  including  the border  town  Keran  destroying the priceless trees and medicinal  herbs, for past over a week.

In absence of  modern gadgets, the officials of  Forest department and State Forest Corporation are struggling to control the fire manually, they said.  However ,the  fire has been  brought under control in some compartments and efforts are afoot to douse it in many other forest areas, they added.

“After  hectic efforts, the fire was brought under control in compartment 27, in Keran, close to the Line of Control. However, serious efforts are underway to douse the fire in some other areas,” D.P Singh, Divisional Forest Officer, Kehmil forest division, who spearheaded the fire extinguishing operations in Keran told ‘Kashmir Wire’ 

“Additional reinforcement was sent to Compartment  50 A, in Warsun forest area  today to douse the fire that broke out a day before. Windy mornings and  evenings  intensify the fire making the matters worse. However we are sparing no efforts to save priceless trees and medicinal herbs from damage,” he added.

Some other worst affected areas include Budnamal and border town Machil. 

In absence of  modern gadgets like helicopters fitted  with Bambi buckets to douse the fire with water, the field staff digs soil with ploughs and other digging tools and the soil is put on the fire to douse it.

The extinguishing operations’ in a few affected compartments used as ‘firing range’ by army have not been easy, an official said.

“These compartments are ‘out of bounds’ for anybody and  any sort  of  movement in such compartments could prove life threatening. Firing  practice can take place anytime in these compartments. We are helpless to do anything,” the official requesting anonymity told ‘Kashmir Wire’

Asked  how the fire broke out  in the area, the  DFO  said ,  people who collect mushrooms  (locally called  Gacchi)  in forests, shepherds or army’ patrols  irresponsibly lit fire for warmth and  leave it unattended.  “Such irresponsible acts cause  fire in forests. Amid a long dry spell, a slight wind spreads fire,” he added.    

There have been scores of  forest fires’ in dense forests of Kupwara during  past  few  months causing damage to the trees.   (Kashmir Wire )

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