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.
Notably, the forest fires have left the officials of Forest Department and the State Forest Corporation struggling to control the fire manually as they have not been provided any modern gadgets to tackle the crisis.
“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 said.
“Additional reinforcement was sent to Compartment 50 A, in Warsun forest area today to douse the fire that broke out a day before. Mild winds in the mornings and evenings intensify the fire making matters worse. However, we are sparing no efforts to save the priceless trees and medicinal herbs from getting damaged,” he added.
Pertinently, the fire has also spread to some other 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 said.
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 the past few months causing damage to the trees. (Kashmir Wire)