India — A major fire broke out in Thanes Yeoor forest area on Monday evening, raising an alarm among residents of Manpada near Mulla Baug, as the smoke billowed dangerously close to their bungalows.
Around 4 pm, we saw the fire from our terraces and as it grew darker, the blaze began to spread around with the wind. We phoned forest officials and the fire brigade to ensure that nothing untoward happens, said Teji Jha, who lives in villa 19 at Neelkanth Woods.
Jha added that at one point the residents rushed out of their homes, thinking they would have to evacuate. There were hardly any forest officials to be seen around.
We were comforted only when fire engines came in and started spraying water around so that fire did not spread, but they were clearly ill-equipped to handle forest fire.
A forest official from SGNP, Yeoor confirmed that the fire was raging at the Thane Municipal Garden, the forest boundary at Neelkanth Woods and in Chena village.
We have reached the spot and are trying out best to contain the fire, but we are facing a daunting task due to heavy winds, he told Mumbai Mirror around 9 pm.
Thane Fire Brigade officials also said that they had sent two fire engines and around 15 firemen were trying to contain the flames.
The fire was coming down the hill into the residential area. We could go up on the hills to douse the forest fire, but we cooled down the garden, which lies between the hills and the houses, so the fire doesnt affect the homes.
Our main job was to ensure that it did not spread to the bungalows, said a fire official.
Interestingly, Chief Conservator of Forest and Director of SGNP Dr P N Munde said, I have not heard of any forest fire today.
At the time of going to press, the fire was still raging.
Krishna Tiwari, project officer of the city forest project of Bombay Natural History Society, said that forest fires were becoming increasingly common and threatened the rich fauna of SGNP.
This is the 30th case of forest fire this year and there is a threat of such incidents increasing in the coming months of April and May, when temperatures will soar higher and the forest will become drier, he said.