The government is running a 'Forest Fire Safety Week' from February 1 to February 7 across the state to raise public awareness about fire prevention measures.
Following a dry spell this winter, forest fires have started raging across Jammu and Kashmir with the onset of summer. The phenomenon of forest fires has appeared very early this year.
Reports said that massive fires are raging in the forests of Ganderbal, Tangmarg, Bandipura, Kangan, Anantnag, Srinagar, Kupwara and Budgam in the Kashmir Valley and Udhampur, Doda, Rajouri and Poonch districts of Jammu. The fire fighting system cannot control the fires, most of which are human- triggered.
The fire that broke out two days ago in the 18 and 19 forest compartments of Kangan is fast spreading. Forest officers are trying hard to douse the fire.
Kashmir received little snow this winter and thus is witnessing scanty water in the rivers and streams.
Another massive fire broke out on Friday in Nowroz Baba forests of Tangmarg division.
The fire that broke out in compartment number 25 of the Pathribal forests in the lower reaches of Pir Panjal mountain range in Nowroz Baba has consumed several trees. The divisional forest officer was personally supervising the fire fighting operations that have to some extent succeeded.
Works minister Naeem Akhtar tweeted, “great relief that the forest fire in Bandipur has been controlled. My deep appreciation for forest department officials, an alert, vibrant civil society of Bandipur led from the front by DC. Need for a massive regeneration, plantation drive to follow”.
Incidents of forest fires are increasing every year in J&K. As many as 781 forest fires were reported within nine months (April to December) last year. The number of forest fires in 2015-2016 was 214, 470 in 2014-2015 and 278 in 2013-2014. According to official figures, these fires destroyed green cover over an area of 2557 hectares.
289 forest fire incidents were reported last year in Kashmir Valley and 492 in Jammu division.
Reports point out that failure of the forest department to keep the fire lines clear of inflammable material was also a cause of forest fires.
The forests of Kashmir region mostly fall in dry temperate class. These forests predominantly have conifers comprising of Deodar, Kail and Fir that are prone to fire. At times fire is triggered by locals who believe that burning forest will produce rich manure.