Post Hudhud Horrors, Wildfires Creating Panic

VISAKHAPATNAM:  Though the fire officials brought the wildfire on Kambalakonda and Gudilova hills under control by Thursday evening, after relentless efforts, fear of a recurrence hangs thick in the hearts of Vizagites what with the greenery on the Eastern Ghats rendered bone dry after the trees got uprooted by Hudhud. It may be noted here that the city witnessed 37 major and minor fire mishaps, between October 12 and 28, at various places where the dried up trees and debris were dumped.

With the northwesterly winds adding fuel to the fire, the residents of Mindivanipalem, Mamidivalasa, Dabbanda, Kommadi, Bakkannapalem, Arilova and Pineapple Colony are apparently gripped in panic. Meanwhile, the recent fire accidents in Kapparada and Gudilova hills have exposed the serious threat looming large over the people in the residential areas near Gudilova and Adavivaram upto Simhachalam, which are located near the Eastern Ghats. As a precautionary measure, the fire department has kept fire tenders stationed in these colonies. M Suri Babu of Pineapple Colony said that the residents are panic-stricken as the area is located near the hills. “There is also a chance of wild animals entering the colony due to the wildfire,” he says, worried.

The situation is no different for people living within the city as the 83 temporary dumping yards set up by the municipal corporation at various places to pile uprooted/cut trees and garbage, are giving them sleepless nights. It may be mentioned here that a majority of the temporary dumping yards have been set up amidst residential areas, making it a Herculean task for the firemen to keep a vigil simultaneously on these dumping yards and residential colonies.

According to a fire official, 37 emergency fire calls were received by the fire department between October 12 and 28. On Oct 28, the first major fire incident took place at Pedawaltair dumping yard and firemen had to struggle for several hours to put it out. The forest fire at Kapparada started a week later and then the one at Gudilova hills, right after another week.

Even as these fires were brought under control with the help of the Navy officials, fire mishaps were reported at the temporary dumping yards in Allipuram and Arilova.

G Saraswati, a homemaker from Allipuram who witnessed the fire mishap on November 8, said, “As the debris was dumped beside electric poles and buildings, people in our area are quite scared. We’re constantly worried that another fire may break out.” Meanwhile, shortage of equipment and manpower is causing serious concerns for the fire services department. The department immediately needs more than 50 firemen apart from leading fire operators, drivers and other staff. It also lacks major equipment like cutting saws, generators, sky-lifts, ropes, dragon lights, etc.

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