India — BHAVNAGAR: Hundreds of trees were charred in a major fire that engulfed four hectares of Victoria Park, a reserved forest spread over 202 hectares in the heart of the city on Saturday.
According to fire brigade officials, the fire broke out at 5 pm on Saturday. Though the cause could not be ascertained, sources in the forest department alleged it was a handiwork of land sharks, eyeing property in the park worth billions of rupees.
“Such was the blazing inferno that its flames could be seen as far as two km from the park. The fire was eventually doused well past midnight after 45 tankers of water were sprayed using fire engines from Bhavnagar fire brigade and Sihor fire brigade,” said fire brigade official Prakash Trivedi.
This was the second fire incident reported in Victoria Park, which witnessed a similar calamity just a week ago. “It’s a part of some large-scale conspiracy hatched by land mafia who are desperate to lay their hands on the land inside the park,” alleged district forest officer KS Randhava.
Victoria Park is the only reserved forest in the middle of a city after Pune in Asia. Local MP Rajendrasinh Rana made a representation before state forest minister Mangu Patel, calling for tightening of security cover around the park. “The two incidents of fire pose a serious threat to flora and fauna in Victoria Park. Personnel from the forest department guarding the park are ill-equipped to handle such emergency. I’ve urged the state forest minister to provide them with state-of-the-art equipment,” Rana told reporters here.