Fear gripped residents of some parts of Udhampur, Reasi, and Rajouri districts as forest fire engulfed their respective belts for the last three days.
According to reports, a fire broke out in the Dudu Basantgarh area of Udhampur district on Saturday evening. Reports said that the fire was doused off earlier but some miscreants lit the fire again in the forest.
Quoting Ayush Gupta, Dudu Range officer, some local news agencies reported that the fire was controlled but it was again lit by locals.
"We got the information about the forest fire in the forest area in the morning. It was controlled by 10:30 am but after some locals set fire again. The name of the accused has been sent to Sub-Divisional Magistrate," said Ayush Gupta. The State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) has also joined in the rescue operation to douse the fire.
DC Reasi discusses modalities to contain forest fire
Deputy Commissioner Reasi, Babila Rakwal today chaired a meeting to chalk out strategies to contain the fire that has broken out in the Sailanjan area of Thakrakote Forest of district Reasi.
The commissioner directed the district officers and Police to work in unanimity to contain the forest fire in Thakrakote Forest. She emphasized chalking out a foolproof strategy to douse the fire to minimize the loss to the forest flora and fauna.
She asked the concerned to supplement the efforts of Forest firefighters from the forest department who are working 24×7 unbridledly to minimize the wrath unleashed by the fire in the area.
Fire in the compartments number 40 and 41 of Sailanjan Forest area of Thakrakote was broken out on 26 April, causing devastation in the Forest with a huge loss to biodiversity and local communities which thrive on forests for their livelihood.
Fear grips as the fire reach villages
As the ongoing forest fire is engulfing more and more areas, fear gripped people living near the forest. They are concerned for the security of their lives and houses.
There is fear among people that if the fire is not controlled in time it might enter the villages even in the residential areas.
In the Rajouri district, a massive fire erupted in a forest near a residential area. The blaze destroyed swathes of forest area near the Bathuni, Kalalkaas, and Potha villages of the district. Efforts are being made to bring the fire under control as the blaze continues to destroy trees and other forest resources, reports said.
BJP asks authorities to take action
Expressing serious concern over forest fire in Udhampur district, spokesman of J&K BJP Ranbir Singh Pathania called for a comprehensive action plan to control the fire.
"The forest fires have destroyed the valuable forests of Sewna-Ghordi-Parlidhar-Sattian-Tarmyan in the Udhampur district. Thousands of wild animals have lost their lives in the devastating fires. Vegetation and valuable trees have also been destroyed", Pathania said.
He called for immediate registration of a criminal case with a view to finding the exact culprits behind the genesis of forest fires.
Army choppers pressed into service to douse forest fire
Earlier authorities have called Army choppers to carry out the fire extinguishing operations across the hills in the Udhampur district.
The fire which broke out on April 25 in the forest areas of Udhampur has so far destroyed acres of land and vegetation turning it to ashes.
A fire broke out in the forest area of Charrat panchayat on Tuesday night and was rapidly approaching Bainth village, they said.
At the request of the civil administration, the Udhampur Military Garrison rushed fire tenders and firefighters of Defence Fire Services (DFS), along with a quick action team, and brought the blaze under control.