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Slew of fires keep forest staff on toes in Himachal Pradesh’s Solan and Kasauli

Forest fire halts Kalka-Shimla train 15 km before its destination

Slew of fires keep forest staff on toes in Himachal Pradesh’s Solan and Kasauli

Forest fires continue to wreak havoc in Kasauli and Solan. Tribune photo



Tribune News Service

Solan, May 30

With Solan and Kasauli witnessing temperatures ranging from 38°C to 34°C, forest fires are at their worst. No stretch of pine-laden forest has been left untouched by flames in the last few days. This has further increased the temperature of the area.

Forest fires continue to wreak havoc in Kasauli, with residents of Rajindra Lines in Kasauli cantonment vacating their houses after a massive blaze threatened their houses today.

The fire, which had erupted in the town last night, failed to be doused and spread perilously to habitations this morning, forcing defence authorities to direct residents to vacate their houses. It was brought under control after several hours of intense firefighting.

Another blaze, which had occurred near the Central Research Institute last evening, also caused chaos as it burnt the entire forest floor. Women and children were asked to vacate their houses and were housed in a guest house till the blaze was doused.

Yet another fire also erupted at Mashobra near the Government Senior Secondary School today.

A massive fire was also seen in the forested area in new Kather in Solan this evening.

Hills around Solan were seen simmering with uncontrolled blaze where several hectares had been left charred, destroying the flora and fauna of the forest.

Several fires have been occurring on the Dharampur-Sanawar road, where pine trees were spotted burnt in the blaze. The road remained smoke-filled throughout the day, hitting visibility last afternoon.

Smoke was also seen billowing from the valley below Monkey Point in Kasauli as dry pine needles burnt in the dry weather. The forest fires added to the woes of area residents, who were already greatly inconvenienced by the rising temperatures.

Over 200 ground fires and more than 30 major fires have occurred in Solan forest division this season so far.

With no end to the hot and dry weather predicted for the next few days, residents fear that even more forest fires are imminent.

These fires can be triggered by something as trivial as a callously thrown lit cigarette or an unattended fire started to burn waste, according to the locals.

Solan Divisional Forest Officer Hitender Gupta said the staff was on its toes as cases of forest fires poured in rapidly. He appealed to residents not to indulge in any act of callousness which could lead to fires.

Driving along the roads has also become risky as forest fires are seen simmering on the forest floor close to roads of the area. A sudden gush of wind is enough to spread the fire, which can set ablaze vehicles driving on or parked along roads.

Cases of fire erupting due to electrical short-circuits have also come to the fore, causing standing crop to been burnt in the fields.

Yesterday, Solan Deputy Commissioner Manmohan Sharma announced the closure of all primary schools and Anganwadi centres in the district till June 4 in view of the heatwave and forest fires, which have made commuting risky for small kids.

Fire halts Kalka-Shimla train 15 km before its destination

Shimla: A forest fire forced the train coming from Kalka towards Shimla to halt 15 km before its destination here on Thursday.

The fire broke out in the Tara Devi jungle last evening and reached the railway track this afternoon, forcing the train driver to hit the brakes ahead of the Tara Devi railway station.

“The train had to be stopped as the fire had reached the railway track. The train was given a go-ahead after about two hours when the fire died out,” said a Railway official, requesting anonymity.

The official said most of the passengers waited for the train to resume journey after getting a green signal, while a few of them arranged for taxis to reach Shimla.

As per the Fire Department officials, the fire broke out last evening and spread to a large area in the night. “We had doused the blaze, but it flared up again due to wind or some other reason. Probably, the fire lit up again in the morning and reached the track,” said Mansa Ram, Station Fire Officer.

Meanwhile, the district administration evacuated 51 students from the Scouts and Guides Training Centre, Tara Devi, last night, after a fire spread. These students from Haryana were shifted to Government Senior Secondary School, Shoghi. Shimla DC Anupam Kashyap said the students were provided basic facilities at the school and were sent to their destination this afternoon.

Shimla has been witnessing repeated incidents of fire over the past 15-20 days due to the hot and dry weather. On Thursday, Shimla received some rainfall, which has brought down the temperature slightly. With the weather department predicting rain over the next few days, fire incidents in Shimla forests are likely to reduce.

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