Srinagar: Prolonged dry spell has triggered a massive fire in the forest areas surrounding Mahadev Peak at Dachigam National Park here.
Situated at an altitude of 10000 feet, Mahadev is the highest mountain peak in Srinagar. The fire broke out on Sunday evening and was brought under control on Tuesday.
Later, the fire spread to Brimjinar, Hapatnarij, Tathbal, and Shalkan, which surrounds the Mahadev peak.
Wildlife Warden Central Altaf Hussain said the incident was reported in the area of Hapatnarij on the evening of August 16.
“We initially sent a team of six fire-fighters. However, it was getting difficult for them to douse the flames,” he said.
On the night of August 16, more people were sent to the spot. “Tall long grasses grow in the area. Due to the prolonged dry spell, it was highly combustible. The personnel reached the spot by 7 am,” Hussain said.
On August 17, when the team thought they had controlled the fire, a strong wind threw another challenge. “During the day, we almost controlled 80 percent of it. But unfortunately, at around 4:30 in the afternoon, a strong wind blew and fanned the flames. It brought other areas in the lap of fire,” he said.
Later three different teams comprising 27 personnel from Department of Wildlife, Forest Department, and Forest Protection Force was constituted. Local people also joined in fire fighting efforts.
“The teams were sent from three different directions and with a lot of efforts, we managed to douse the flames by 6:45 on Tuesday morning,” Hussain said.
He noted that no major crop damage was caused in this whole process. “Roughly around 5 hectares of forest land were affected by the fire. It was mostly tall grass which was engulfed by the fire and not the trees,” he said.
Jammu and Kashmir has a total forest cover of 20230 sq km (20.23 lakh hectares) accounting for 19.95% of the total Geographical area. The forests in the Kashmir region mostly fall in dry temperate class. These forests are predominantly having conifers consisting of Deodar, Kail, and Fir.