Batpora, India — A major forest fire raging in Kupwara district sinceOctober 30 evening has destroyed thousands of trees. Officials said the fire broke out in compartment No. 66 at Batpora some 20kilometers from Kupwara and spread to compartment No. 67, turning instantlyhundreds of trees to ashes. The flames spread to more than 100 hectares ofdrought-hit area. A den of leopards at Chatkn foothills was engulfed by the firestorm, burning two leopards, the officials said. The area is home to several migratory birds, leopards, rare KashmiriHangul and famous Kashmiri ibex (Rous Kut). Though firefighters of the forest department have reached the spot and aremaking efforts to control the flames, fire is spreading fast to the adjoiningforests, the officials said. DFO Kamraj, MM Rather told Greater Kashmir the area under fire has no roadconnectivity and officials are making efforts to control the flames manually. Over 15 incidents of forest fire have been reported in Kupwara districtalone in the past one month.
Some major fire incidents: Oct 3: Fire broke at compartment No. 9 of Kandi village andspread to compartment Nos. 23 and 24 of Sogam, south Lolab. Fire fighters werestopped by Army at Kandi and Dorsa, and due to delay the flames spread to otherareas destroying hundreds of trees. Oct 5: A major fire broke out at Batpora turning instantlyscores of trees into ashes. Fire fighters reached the spot and the flames werecontrolled after a week. Oct 13: Compartment No. 6 of Kandi was engulfed by the flames.The fire spread to compartment Nos. 17, 18, 19, 23, 24 and 27, destroyinghundreds of famed deodar trees. Oct 14: Fire started at the compartment No. 8 of Keegam Kandiconsuming hundreds of deodar trees. The flames spread to compartment No. 13.Locals extinguished the wildfire. Oct 15: Awoora village of Kehmil division was engulfed by majorfire gutting scores of deodar and fir trees. Local residents here too came outand extinguished the fire. Oct 19: Fire broke out at Rangwar area of Kehmil division anddestroyed hundreds of deodar trees. It continued for two weeks. Oct 20: Kralpora forests were set on fire by some miscreants. Oct 22: Forest fire broke out at Kralpora (Kehmil division) andLangate area of Handwara consuming many hectares of forest area. Oct 24: Fire broke at the top of the Dorsa forests (compartmentNo. 23) and spread to vast green patches of compartment Nos. 26 and 27.
Locals blame officials Local residents are shocked by frequent incidents of forest firein Kupwara. Our forest wealth is set on fire by timber smugglers whorehand in glove with officials. Officials have failed to identify the culprits,many locals said.
Govt blames Army Series of forest fires occurred this autumn as leaves and dry grasscatch fire even if a match stick is lit up. In Kupwara forests, excessivemovement of troops has added to the fire incidents, said chief conservator offorests Abdur Razzaq. We have officially communicated to Army and told them to avoid lightingcigarettes and cooking food in jungles during frequent sieges and patrolling,he said.