Over 1.3K wildfires in Himachal in one week

A major fire has been raging in Tara Devi forests in Shimla. Solan, Bilaspur, Mandi and Kangra districts also reported forest fires.
Smoke billows out after a fire broke out in a forest near residential area in Shimla.
Smoke billows out after a fire broke out in a forest near residential area in Shimla.Photo | PTI

CHANDIGARH: In the last seven days, 1,343 forest fires have been reported in Himachal Pradesh with an intense dry spell pushing the mercury beyond 40 degrees Celsius in several places, according to the Forest Survey of India. Maximum temperature in Una touched 46 degree C on Wednesday, surpassing the previous highest of 45.2 degree C recorded in 2013. Bilaspur sizzled at 44 degree C and Hamirpur at 43.7 degree C.

Forest officials said that nearly 100 forest fires have been reported in and around Shimla in last one week, posing threat to wildlife and human habitations. A major fire has been raging in Tara Devi forests in Shimla. Solan, Bilaspur, Mandi and Kangra districts also reported forest fires.

Officials said wildfires wreaked havoc in Kasauli, with residents of Rajindra Lines in the cantonment area vacating their houses. The fire that erupted in the town spread perilously to habitations, forcing defence authorities to direct residents to vacate their houses. The fire was brought under control after intense firefighting.

Another blaze took place near the Central Research Institute. Women and children were asked to vacate their houses and taken to the guest house till the fire was doused. Mashobra near the Government Senior Secondary School, new Kather area in Solan, and areas near Dharampur-Sanawar road, among other places, reported wildfires.

A forest department official said, “As pine trees begin to shed their needles from mid-April to May-end and temperatures go up, these trees turn highly combustible since they contain high resin content. Heaps of needles spread across the forests easily catch fire.

The other problem is the burning of waste by the people living in the vicinity of these forests. There are 2,026 forest beats in the hill state, of which 339 are very sensitive, 667 sensitive and 1,020 are less prone to forest fires.

Fire posing threat to wildlife and human habitations

Forest officials said that nearly 100 forest fires have been reported in and around Shimla in last one week, posing threat to wildlife and human habitations. A major fire has been raging in Tara Devi forests in Shimla. Solan, Bilaspur, Mandi and Kangra districts also reported forest fires.

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