Forest fire reduces pine trees to ashes in Musakhail

Blaze started a week ago and spread quickly due to strong winds


Syed Ali Shah May 17, 2022
PHOTO: EXPRESS

QUETTA:

Uncontrolled fire has engulfed a large part of the ancient pine forests in Musakhail district of Balochistan, gutting thousands of precious trees. The fire erupted a week ago due to unknown reasons and it spread rapidly to a large part of the forest due to high winds, hot weather and lack of proper, coordinated and timely firefighting activity.

“I can confirm that the fire is a large one and thousands of pine trees have been reduced to ashes,” an official told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity. “Flames are visible from miles away as the administration has failed completely to bring it under control,” a local Muhammad Jalal said, adding that a 10-km area has been engulfed and the forest has been reduced to ashes as there is no effort on the part of the district administration to bring it under control.

Taking notice of the situation, Chief Minister Balochistan, Mir Quddus Bizenjo on Monday directed the authorities to contact the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to provide helicopters to control the blaze. Bizenjo has also directed chief secretary Balochistan to take action against the officials of the forest department, provincial disaster management authority (PDMA), and district administration for showing negligence.

The fire is so huge that it has spread to two tehsils of Toisar and Kingri of Musakhail district. “The main affected areas have been identified as Union Council Andar Parh and Zorak Parank,” Abdur Rehman Musakhail a local journalist told The Express Tribune. “The fire has destroyed ancient pine trees in the forest,” Niamatullah Musakhail, a resident of the area said. He added that the district administration and forest department failed to control the fire and act in a timely manner.

“A proper and coordinated firefighting activity by the administration and forest department could have saved thousands of trees,” Musakhail noted. “In the past one week the fire spread to two tehsils gutting thousands of large trees which were the main sources of income for the locals,” he said, adding that pine nuts produced locally were famous across the country for their quality. In a handout issued on Monday, Bizenjo said forests play an important role in improving the ecosystem.

He directed the departments to assess the damages caused by the fire and submit a report in this regard. Locals confirmed the arrival of forest and levies officials in the area. However, they said the fire was beyond the capacity of the forest and levies. “Levies personnel are not firefighters.

They are not trained for it,” Abdur Rehman said. Salmeen Khapalwak, the founder of the Ashar Movement said that the first fire was reported at Mughal Kot area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) called Mughal Kot Dabara which borders Musakhail district. Similarly, another fire was reported at Karanay Kaar some three miles from Mughalat Kot Dabara.

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