Wildfires have destroyed an area of forest stretching several kilometers in Gund area of Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district. Eyewitnesses said that compartment number 65 and 66 in Gund Forest were in flames causing extensive damage to flora and fauna.
Range Officer Kangan, Munir Ahmed said that crews have failed to extinguish the flames due to lack of appropriate tools and an insufficient number of personnel.
“Fire has been doused in compartment number 66, however fire is advancing on both sides of the fire because we do not have suitable services and measures to control it,” he said.
People believe that the fires were sparked by lighted cigarette butts thrown down by timber smugglers.
“Flames of the fire could be seen from a long distance and the temperature of the area has increased,” a local social activist Ghulam Nabi.
“The fire has also caused damage to green trees and wildlife,” a Forest official said.
A series of similar wildfire incidents in past have destroyed a large forest area in Central and North Kashmir in past. Locals told CNS that farmers have lost livestock and fodder stored on the forested lands. Officials accuse nearby communities of abusing the forests to further their livelihood.
“People living in areas adjacent to the forests intentionally carry out grassfires because they believe that it regenerates richer grass, which is used as food for livestock,” another forest official said. (CNS)