April blaze: Fresh forest fire erupts on Margalla Hills

Published: April 23, 2018
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Huge fire erupts in forests of Margalla Hills at Monal on Monday afternoon. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/ THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE

Huge fire erupts in forests of Margalla Hills at Monal on Monday afternoon. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/ THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE

ISLAMABAD: Another fire erupted in the forests of the Margalla Hills on Sunday evening. Fire brigades were dispatched to extinguish the fire.

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) Environment Wing Director Irfan Niazi told The Express Tribune that the fire broke out in jungle 11, located to the east of the popular hill-top eatery Monal Restaurant, at around 6:20 pm on Sunday evening.

When asked, he said that the reasons behind the latest outbreak have yet to be ascertained.

Asked about the operation to put out the blaze, he said that it was ongoing and likely to take some time since the fire had erupted in a spot where fire tenders cannot reach.

He added that CDA teams would be walking for more than half an hour to reach the spot to combat the blaze.

A CDA official said that at times locals are involved in fire incidents, adding that forests located adjacent to hiking trails in the park are frequent sites of fire since visitors often throw lit cigarettes and other flammable items on to dry grass and bushes causing the fires. Earlier, on March 29, 2018, the season’s first forest fire was witnessed near the Kalinger Village and near Daman-e-Koh.

The fire had quickly spread over an area of three to four acres around the Margalla Hills landscape.

The CDA’s fire-fighting operation found itself losing the blazing battle and had to seek help from helicopters of the aviation wing of the Defence Division to overcome fire after a tedious 48-hour-long battle.

No additional help

During fire season CDA usually hires services of local villagers on a daily-wage basis to put out fires. However, this year, the government has opted against the move.

The CDA official explained that the fire season typically lasts from April 15 to July 15, every year.

For this reason, before the season commences, the CDA establishes pickets and hires local villagers to carry out prompt extinguishing operations to counter the possibility of a widespread fire on the Margalla Hills.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2018.

 

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