Pakistan — The bush-fire, which broke out in the Malpur forest of Islamabad on Tuesday afternoon, quickly engulfed a vast tract along Murree Road opposite the Diplomatic Enclave extension area.
The fire started from Bani Gala Road, swerving off the main Murree Road, leading towards the Bani Gala village where a large number of influential persons had constructed villas in violation of rules and regulations. The fire gradually travelled towards the main Murree Road due to wind.
The leaping flames and thick plumes of smoke bellowing from the fire site immediately caught the eyes of people travelling on Murree Road as well as those living in the area. They informed the Rescue 15 and eventually the Fire Department of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) responded to the distress call by dispatching fire tenders to the site.
We received the fire call at 3:42 p.m. and the nearest fire tender, stationed near the French Embassy, was moved that reached the spot at 3:45 p.m. and started fire control efforts. The back-up fire tender was also dispatched that reached the spot within minutes after the first one arrived at the site, Director General (Civic Management) Syed Mustafain Kazmi told The News.
He said that firemen doused off the fire in the area where they had access and both vehicles returned to the base at 5:15 p.m. There were some smoldering pockets left for the staff of the Environment Directorate to take care and put off fire from those areas, he added.
Director Environment (Regional) Malik Auliya Khan told The News that apparently it was an accidental fire. Initially there were no indications or evidence that may indicate if it could have sparked off because of some malicious activity. There is a road passing through this area, approaching Bani Gala which is frequented by people who have constructed houses there. So, this fire could have started because of some negligence of a person who might have thrown out a burning cigarette butt, a lighted matchstick or something like that.
It spread fast because of the dryness as there is hardly any rain in this region so far. The bushes and the weeds, which have grown thick and long are too dry and as such have become highly inflammable. However, the Fire Department of the CDA prevented further spread and controlled the fire. Whatever little patches were left behind were being taken care by our own staff, he said.
He said that around 15 to 20 members of the Environment Directorate staff were sent to the area to beat and put off the fire and they were still in the area, engaged in controlling the small pockets where it (fire) re-ignites and monitoring the area to prevent any further outbreak or spread of this fire.
He said that because of the prolonged dry season the Margallas as well as other forest areas at the foothills and even the green pockets inside the city have been highly fire prone and people have to extend cooperation to the CDA to prevent and control such fire incidents in the federal capital. This is the second time over the last couple of weeks that such a bush fire broke out within the municipal area of the federal capital. Last time a similar fire broke out near the Natural History Museum behind the Shakarparian hillock and the second one was Tuesdays incident in Malpur forest area. In both these cases the Fire Department of the authority was called in and helped bring the fire under control.
In the past such fires were always controlled by the Environment Directorates own staff, which is especially hired on season basis and have become well trained over the years in traditional methods of such bush and jungle fire fighting techniques. There was no damage reported to the property nor any body was hurt during the fire fighting operation.