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.

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