Batpora (Kupwara) – A major fire has been raging in Kupwara forests for the past three days destroying hundreds of deodar and other trees. On Saturday afternoon, fire broke out in compartment No. 66 (Batpora) turning instantly scores of trees into ashes. The firefighters of the forest department reached the spot and made efforts to control the flames but in vain as fast winds have been blowing for the past week. The fire was on when this report was filed. Its the fourth incident of forest fire in the past three days in this frontier district famed for its dense deodar forests. Official sources said that fire broke initially on October 3 evening on the top of Kandi village and spread up to compartment Nos. 23 and 24 of Sogam. When contacted, DFO Kamraj, M M Rather told Greater Kashmir that after receiving reports of fire we rushed our firefighters via Keegam but they were not allowed to move ahead as the area was under the Army siege. Due to the delay, Rather said, fire spread to compartment Nos. 23 and 24 which fall in Sogam. Then we rushed another team in the supervision of range officer from Doursa side but again our officials were intercepted by Army at Chandigam village of Lolab, he added. Sensing the gravity of situation, Rather said he pleaded to the Commanding Officer of 18 Rashtriya Rifles to allow the forest officials to rush to the spot. They were allowed later, he said. The DFO said that fire is under control and officials are making efforts to ensure that flames dont spread to adjoining areas. The forests are located at the top of the Lolab mountains and there is no road connectivity, the DFO said. So we are trying hard to extinguish the fire manually. Meanwhile, local residents have blamed timber smugglers for triggering the forest fire. In the cover of flames, the smugglers loot the forests, said Muhammad Subhan, a Lolab resident.