Srinagar, Kashmir — Hundreds of wild animals, including deer and langur,have perished in a forest fire raging near the Line of Control in the Mendharsector of Poonch district since Saturday last week. The blaze detonated scoresof land mines, and the civil and the police administration have been put onalert as the fire swept through a huge swathe of forest territory.
The senior superintendent of police for the district, Jagjit Kumar, said thatthe affected area does not fall within the barbed-wire fenced zone, but extremecare was being taken because the fire threatened to spread to inhabited areas.
Forest department officials are of the opinion that only rains can controlthe blaze, but the defence spokesman said that it was an accidental bush firewhich had had no impact on the troop deployment along the LoC.
The flames had almost reached the Kartuyan and Jhalaas areas, but the policeand local residents checked its advance into inhabited areas, following which itspread to the compartment 230 of the forests. No loss of life or damage tovillagers property has been reported.
Sources said that the fire had spread over a stretch of 25 to 29 kilometersalong the LoC, and compartments 130, 131, 144, 145, 205 and 206 were the worstaffected.
Hundreds of wild animals are believed to have been devoured by the fire, andthe divisional forest officer for Poonch, Brij Mohan Sharma, said that firefighting operations were being severely hampered by the intense heat generatedby the blaze.
The deputy commissioner for the district said that nothing definite could besaid about human casualties at present because several areas were difficult toaccess.
Forest fires in Naliya, Pather Nallah and Sidrayee areas of PcK spread tothis side of the LoC in Balnoie, Salotri, Gani, Sagra Top, Alfa, Nangi Tikre,Golad, Chagla and Gursia areas of Mendhar tehsil of Poonch district, they said.