Massive Fire Engulfs Forest Area In Kashmir's Rajouri District
22 May 2009
: A massive fire has engulfed a large forest area in Rajouri District of Jammu, causing damage to the region's ecology and rendering many homeless. The fire, which has been raging for past two days, has not only destroyed large number of trees but is also posing a serious security concern for the nomadic tribes living near the forest. Forest officials cited prolonged dry spell as the main reason for such incidents. We have had a dry season for past two, two-and-half months. Due to the dryness, the needles of the pine trees, growing in the forest become dry. These needles are resinous and hence highly inflammable. When they fall on ground, they catch fire easily due to even slight carelessness, said S.L. Kaul, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Rajouri. The major sufferers in the incident have been the Bakkarwals, a nomadic tribe who lost their houses and other belongings. My house being near to the forest also caught fire. I lost all my belongings, utensils, clothes, and all other articles. People were saved but we lost all our belongings, said Husson Din, a victim. Despite their best efforts, the fire brigade has not been able to control the fire from spreading further. Unavailability of water is a major handicap in controlling the fire. We informed the authorities and one guard came to take a look but he could not do much. Then the fire officials came and they have succeeded in controlling it a bit, but there have been massive losses due to the fire, said Mazir, a local resident. The fire has also led to a rise in the temperature of the region around the forest cover.